How and When to Win Investors

Perspectives from Experts Farina Schurzfeld & Bryony Cooper

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Farina Schurzfeld of Selfapy at Factory Berlin’s How to Win Investors Women’s Circle Community Event
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Farina Schurzfeld addressing the best mindset with which to approach investors

Why Write This?

Although happy enough to simply soak up knowledge from these speakers, I then noticed in my Twitter feed a particularly keen interest in when entrepreneurs should bootstrap or seek VC funding:

Investors Invest in Teams:

Do not forget this important fact. I only caught the last few minutes of Ekkehard Endruweit’s presentation prior to Farina’s, but he said that investors nearly always invest in teams. This concept was reiterated throughout the session by all of the speakers. Usually, a VC looking for the next unicorn will not invest in a solo-founder. Why? Because a team is simply stronger in accomplishing feats, and has a more varied skill set and can, as Farina says, “steer the ship if it gets off track.”

Deeply Consider External Funding:

One of the benefits of bootstrapping your startup is that you don’t have a new “boss” that you need to answer to. Yes, you are beholden to generous individuals or you have to dig deeper in your pockets but it’s different from the interactions with an investor, like monthly meetings and reports on progress, as well as formal legal interactions. (Yes, you will need a lawyer, so account for that too in your business plan.) Therefore, Farina strongly suggests that you ensure proper alignment before moving ahead with a VC. This means being clear on your own values and on the values of the potential VC. Listen to your gut. The more you get along, the better.

Only Take ‘Smart Money’:

Farina considers VC-startup initial interactions, such as an interview, as a 2-way street. As a startup, you are also evaluating the VC. Will you be compatible, and can they guide you? Will you have fun? Do you have shared values? You should ideally only take money from someone who brings you strategic value and can guide you on the difficult path of a founder, helping you build up the company. You don’t just want an investor who simply wants to get a multiple of x. An angel investor should be able to leverage you and your ideas or product, especially here in Berlin.

Be Prepared & Keep Learning:

You should only go to an angel investor when you have more than an idea in mind. Bryony offered a Fundraising Toolkit that includes a checklist: a killer 1-liner, one-pager, pitch deck, and 3-yr financial plan as well as a prototype. She says: be ambitious but don’t overpromise or delude investors.

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Bryony Cooper presenting the contents of a Fundraising Toolkit

De-risk an Investor’s Decision:

Farina gave this example: if you quit your day-job that’s an extremely strong signal that you are fully committed to your idea. Along with that spirit, prepare your documents and only approach an investor with proof of credibility. This proof can be in the form of a landing page that already shows traffic, or that you’ve dropped 500 Euros on ads.

Be a Model Founder (and maybe a Role Model):

Curious what the ideal characteristics of a founder are? Bryony has that covered. Her list includes these attributes: Adaptable, Honest, Transparent, Resilient, and Tenacious. As you move along your entrepreneurial path and seek to avoid burnout, she suggests that you strive to be organized, have patience, do your research, and remain authentic.

Reporting from within a Venn diagram of health, tech and empowerment. Berlin-based. Internationally minded.

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