Diary of a start-up part 2: raising capital

We have been crazy busy since the Roadshows trying to get demos out to the many schools and organizations that wanted to give Hail a go. Our pipeline is packed and we simply don't have enough time nor resource to get to every single new customer keen to see what we can do for them.

Read part one here...

This is a great problem to have, but one that is, no less, a frustration. Inevitably, in the lifecycle of a startup there comes a time when your seed-funding starts to run low and your potential runs high. That's where we are at right now. Our initial investor funds are coming to an end and we have not yet hit break even point in terms of our recurring monthly revenue. 

So the decision was made to seek our first real funding round. 

The first step in a process like this is to get your house in order. This meant making sure our books were squeaky clean, our structure was more formalised and our board was cemented and up to speed with what needed to be done to move forward.

It's at this point that we spent many hours working on our business plan and associated documentation to make sure the fundraising process went as smoothly as possible. 

We sent in an extensive application to the Icehouse to be considered to pitch at their 5th annual Angel Investment Showcase. We were chosen to do a preliminary pitch to the subcommittee, which by all accounts went very well and the next day were given the news that we were accepted as one of 11 New Zealand companies to pitch in Auckland to an audience of over 300 angel investors. Daunting, but exciting too. The next two weeks were a blur of documentation and re-do's of presentations and collateral. The pitch had to be no more than eight minutes long and we had so much to say! 

At this time we also approached some other sources for funding. We have a Skype meeting with a verrrrry cool New York-based VC firm next week. The firm invests in female-founded or led companies around the globe and it would be an incredible accomplishment if we could get them on board. The contact I spoke with is actually an Australian and she was excited to be talking to a Kiwi! 

We have also pitched to an Australia-based VC and have reached out to a number of other investment channels both here in New Zealand and overseas. 

Raising funds is a full time occupation and one that takes away your focus from other vital startup tasks... like building your user base! It's definitely a juggle, that's for sure... and something that we didn't go into lightly. However, in order to reach out internationally and scale the business fast we needed outside capital to make it work. 

So, we went to Auckland last week and amidst a sea of investors and other amazing Kiwi companies we stood up on stage and gave it our best. We were up first and assured this was one of the best spots to be in. The night went extremely well with loads of questions at our booth, both before and after our pitch, and eventuated in a good deal of interest in Hail from an investment perspective. We are now planning follow up meetings in Auckland next week with interested parties. 


Image: Bex Twemlow, managing director, Hail, preparing for the 5th annual Angel Investment Showcase.

We have also been asked to present at the Asian Angels Business Forum to be held in Queenstown in mid October, so we're working hard on fulfilling our requirements for that event. 

One thing we do want to do is to enable our crowd, our tribe, to have the opportunity to be a part of Hail. To this end we are in talks with both PledgeMe and Snowball Effect to potentially list on their platforms to fill out our investment round and allow our community to become a part of Hail. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our devs are still busy pushing out improvements and new features. The perpetual juggling act is tough and is one that I'm grappling with. I can see a huge amount of work that needs to be done around customer acquisition and growth markets and with our focus squarely on achieving investment this has had to take somewhat of a back seat for the meantime. 

Next steps are to round up our investment potentials and consolidate our efforts for achieving our growth targets. All the while making sure we are giving our current customer base excellent customer service with a smile ;)