Entrepreneurship is the new buzzword across the world. Startups are brewing in every corner of the world and innovating in every sphere of life. Unlike before, where business models existed for years and even decades, the rules of the game for creating economic value are now subject to rapid disruption, and, in some cases, outright destruction. The world is changing almost every day with new business models displacing the old ones. Bitcoins are now contending opposite traditional banks and clearinghouses with block chain technology and the banks find themselves in the constant need to renovate in order to keep up with the growing popularity of virtual currencies. Artificial Intelligence promises to take businesses light years ahead of their competition.
Business model construct powered by technology is the new norm of innovation. With zillions of ideas bursting across, we all know that some of them are going to change the world and our lives, like never before, but a common question nudging many of them today is: ‘How to find investors for my business?’
Build a solution to an existing problem
Do a reality check on your idea. Make sure your idea is innovating a solution to an existing problem and not inventing a potential problem. To succeed, it is important to work on the problems currently faced by the world. It ensures that the problem really exists. It sounds obvious to say that business ideas should only work on problems that exist. However, most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is to solve problems that don’t exist.
Do not merely look at doing something different and have a situation where after launch, you have zero users. When an idea is launched, there has to be at least some users who really need what the product is; not just potential users, but those who want it urgently. Usually, this group of idea users is small, because if there was something that a large number of people urgently needed, it would already exist.
Most successful founders don’t even realise at first how big a market they are targeting. They grow while exploring their idea and change their business model into something that appeals to a group of people who need their products urgently.
Get a team
Build a lean core team with right skills to execute your idea. The team must share your vision and determination. Remember that potential investors are going to invest in high risk future cash flows. A strong team will help you present your case about the potential of your idea and get investors interested in your idea.
Get the word out
Another tactic is to have publicity and feedback on an open platform. Publish your idea on Idea Junction at Bornbrio. You will be able to create valuable inputs to see through the future and build a plan that will work. Not only the response from public will improvise your idea but the popularity of the idea will support your business plan in front of the investors
Now it’s time to kickstart your business and bring the concept to the market. Remember that if you intend to create value for yourself, you should show traction before you go out to ask money from a potential investor. Call a few incubators to gauge the interest and work out a strategy that works for you. Incubators come in various flavors – Some are sector specific and looking at developing future solutions and partners, while the others are primarily selling space and services in return for cash and equity.
If you strongly feel that parting with equity in very early stages with an incubator is not prudent, a sweet spot could be finding a supplier, distributor, or a customer who gains enough to bear the bill. This is a planning-for-success. If your solution aligns with an existing business problem, there will be potential early adopters who could make a strategic investment in their success. Bootstrap yourself and use revenue generated from early adopters to pay your bills.
Your business will be funded through internal cash flow, but you have to be extremely cautious of every single expense. Successful Indian startups SutraHR and What After College are some of the best examples for bootstrapping.
If the early adopters alone cannot cover your costs, consider raising a small loan. If you are lucky, you may get a lender, who may be willing to provide a loan at leaner terms. Banks being risk averse are not the best sources for such deals; you may be better reaching out to online platforms such as bornbrio.com or lendingclub.com.
Funding your business
Your minimum resources have generated the first few customers and now you need funds to expand the concept and take it to much larger pool of customer. You do not have to pitch your idea to a million investors only to be rejected countless times. With the right homework, you can narrow down your options and with more appropriate homework you can impress the right investor.
A wide research on the investors’ business interests is proven to be beneficial. Some of the key points are; what are the industries and companies they invest, recent investments, how much money they usually invest and their connections. While researching these, you can also try to figure out what might be the next business they will be interested in. Or use this information to convince them why your startup is the right place for them to invest.
If you are clever enough to find the right investor, they will provide you with more than just money. You can bank on their contacts and mentorship.
Traditional or trendy?
Getting appointments with VCs and Angels may be a tedious task and sometime may consume time and effort at the cost of the business. Websites such as Born brio provide an option for entrepreneurs to create an equity or a loan funding campaign, so that investors can look into your ideas and offer money. The website allows you to reach out to several investors with one submission and helps you get the best deal through a bidding mechanism.
Even though internet comes with the magic, personal contacts can work from time to time. That investor you impressed at that business conference might still remember you and will be happy to guide you through your venture. So do not hesitate when it comes to pitching your idea to any potential investor.
(The author of this article is Sandeep Maurya, founder & CEO, Bornbrio, an entrepreneurship engine created to facilitate collaboration between various stakeholders in the exciting world of ideas and innovation. Operating as a startup catalyst, it is a curated marketplace for funds, skills and business solutions for startups and SME’s.)