How my company has raised $75,000 in funding and how you can too

by Jun Loayza on August 9, 2010

catch money

Here is how we did it:

  1. In the past 60 days, Yu-kai and I have met with more than 35 investors
  2. In the past 90 days, Yu-kai and I have pitched at more than 20 angel/VC sponsored events
  3. Yu-kai and I emailed more than 200 friends and professionals in our network asking for funding or for an introduction to funding
  4. Yu-kai has rewritten and revised our Executive Summary and Power Point Deck at least 8 times in the past 60 days
  5. Yu-kai and I wrote a blog post on our blog letting our readers know that we’re looking for capatal

The above 5 points illustrate just how much time and hard-work go into raising capital.

This post is dedicated to the bootstrapped entrepreneur in the technology/internet industry looking to raise Angel or VC money.  You will learn how we got our investor meetings, how we pitched at investor-sponsored events, and how we utilized our network and blogs to raise capital.

How to schedule a meetings with more than 35 investors in 60 days


Yu-kai and I constantly go to entrepreneurship events to meet people and network with influential individuals.  Check out the StartupDigest for a good place to find entrepreneurship events in your area.

We force ourselves to go: At times we get lazy; at other times, we may feel like there is no one at the event worth meeting.  During these times, we just suck it up and go to the event with a smile on our faces.  All it takes is that one event where you meet that one investor who believes in your startup and invests money.  Increase your chances of finding that one investor by going to as many events as possible.

Invest in an iPad: We use an iPad to pitch our product to professionals and investors while at events.  Having visuals to accompany your pitch makes it that much more concrete and compelling.

We don’t hang out with each other: At the event, Yu-kai and I make it a point to NOT hang out with each other.  This forces us to meet people rather than just hang back and talk to each other.

Follow up with good leads and stay persistent

When you find someone that is interested in your pitch, follow up with an email to meet later for coffee.  Here is an example of an email I sent last month:

Subject: Jun Loayza: Great to meet you at the SV Newtech Event

Hi David,

This is Jun Loayza from Viralogy and it was so great to meet you at the SV Newtech event yesterday.  I did some research on the question you had and it looks like Aweber is the most popular email newsletter platform for bloggers between the ages of 20 and 30.

I looked over your portfolio companies and feel that Viralogy is a great fit:

  1. We are in the social commerce industry
  2. We have a completed product
  3. We have paying customers
  4. We have shown to increase revenue for our clients by up to 11%

I’d like to schedule a time to meet for coffee and show you a demo of our product.  I’m available the following days and times next week:

  • Day and time
  • Day and time
  • Day and time

Thanks so much David and I look forward to meeting with you.

I prefer to be very direct with my emails so that the person knows that I am interested in his money.  I’ve scheduled meetings with professionals before without being clear and specific about what my intention was and it ended up being an ineffective use of time for both of us.

How to contact friends and acquaintances with the purpose of raising money

It’s definitely not enough to limit your funding efforts to the chance investor you meet at events.  To maximize our reach, Yu-kai and I emailed 200 friends and acquaintances in our network with the purpose of raising money.

The thought of raising money from a friend can seem intimidating.  The way I think about it is that I’m giving my friend a chance to make a lot of money by investing into my company.  Got to think positive!

This is the email Yu-kai and I used to reach out to our network:

Subject: How’s it going?

Hey David,

It’s been quite a while hasn’t it. Too long actually.

I’m still with Yu-kai Chou and Stephen Johnson working on the startup. We moved to Mountain View, CA in February to be closer to Silicon Valley and things have just picked up tremendously. How is everything going with you?

I’m writing this email to respectably ask if you or someone you know might be interested in discussing the potential of being an investor for my company. Our company is in a great position right now because of the following reasons:

  1. We have a finished product
  2. We have paying customers
  3. Our product has proven to increase revenue for our clients by over 10%

Viralogy is a social commerce platform that utilizes the Facebook social graph to personalize the shopping experience.  Our team has lead social campaigns for LG, Levi’s, and Victoria Secret.

Viralogy won first place at Jason Calacanis’ This Week in Startup’s pitch competitoin, won first place (out of 16) at a CINACON VC Pitch Competition, and Top 10 (out of 140) in a TheFunded.com Pitch Competition! We are in a perfect position to raise another round of angel funding and scale up our business.

Here’s a video that explains more of what Viralogy is about: http://vimeo.com/12590994

Let me know if you or someone you know may be interested and I can send more info about our company.  I’ll actually be in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks. If you’re available and interested, I would very much like to meet up for coffee to catch up.

Thanks David!!!

How we won multiple startup pitch events and competitions

The simple answer is to apply to as many as possible.  Seriously, if you keep pitching, then you’re bound to win eventually.

But the real truth is that pitching is not enough.  Yu-kai and I have pitched at a ton of events in the past three years, and it’s only been in the last 8 months that we’ve finally started to receive recognition and awards at pitch events. We started to win because of the following reasons:

1. We are in an emerging industry: Investors know that social commerce is a HOT industry.  If you’re in a compelling industry, investor ears will perk up and they’ll be that much more interested in what you have to pitch.

2. We have a completed (technology-centric) product: Investors love a good idea, but they love a good idea with a finished product so much more.  Everyone has great ideas; you will stand out if you are able to show a working product during your pitch.

3. We are making revenue: If you have validated that clients will pay for your product, then investors will love you.  Showing revenue reduces risks and makes investors very interested in what you have to say.

So I got the meeting?  How do I close the deal?

The first step is to get the meeting.  Focus all of your efforts on setting up meetings with investors: go to as many events as possible, finish your product and validate that clients will pay for it, and reach out to your network for connections.

My post later next week will detail how to close a deal once you’ve set up the meeting.

Work hard and good luck!

-

p.s. Thank you so much to the investors who believe in our team, our vision, and our company.  We’ll going to have a big success together.

About the author

Jun Loayza Jun Loayza is the President of Ecommerce Rules. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies, raised over $1,000,000 in Angel funding, and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi's, LG, and Activision. Find Jun on Google or Twitter

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Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

jujubean August 9, 2010 at 7:23 am

How much stake (equity) did you exchange for $75000? Didn’t know that raising capital can be such a draining process.

Reply

Jun Loayza August 9, 2010 at 9:09 am

We use a convertible note with our angel investors. This means that the amount of equity will be determined at a later date once we raise VC money. We let the professionals (Venture Capitalists) decide on the valuation.

This method is most favorable to the entrepreneur and angel investor because it’s a faster way to close funding and does not require the high cost of lawyers to draw up the paper work.

Reply

John R. Sedivy August 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

If you don’t mind sharing – how is the valuation determined by the VCs? Is there a maximum amount of equity that can be taken from your company? I hadn’t come across this type of arrangement before and am curious on how it would play out, may be good material for a follow-up blog post.

John R. Sedivy August 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Hi Jun – Congratulations on securing investor funding. By following your blog it appears that you put in a lot of hard work, glad it payed off! I appreciate you sharing your resources here such as StartUp Digest and the process you are going through, I feel that I am learning quite a bit from reading your blog. Good luck with reaching the next step and continuing to build value in your company!

Reply

Andre Charoo August 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Congratulations buddy! I’m glad you’ve shared this with your readers, as people definitely need to know how hard it is to raise financing.

Very happy for you guys.

Cheers,
Andre

Reply

Howard Gottlieb August 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Very interesting. It’s a tough economy. This was very encouraging.

Reply

Career Outlook August 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Very good post, Its always good to know anything about raising money as a entrepreneur.

Reply

Western Dental August 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Wow you are so thorough with the post! Very informative and impressive work. Congratulations on finding the funding!

Reply

The Yakezie August 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Excellent initiative Jun. You guys are really hustling out there! Everything is like a numbers game. The more you go out and pitch, the more you’ll get.

Reply

sunny October 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I found this incredibly insightful and also spot-on. I put together a lot of deals between VCs and startups, and would be impressed with your approach.

Reply

Liese ravier February 24, 2011 at 5:57 am

I am in over $75,000.00 in debt and need to know if I can win any amount soon.

Reply

pcambron March 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Your approach is actually very good if you are raising an insignificant amount like 75K. The truth is, if you need a little bit of capital (anything less than 500K or so), your best bet is to follow these steps. Essentially go to events, hit up your Rolodex, and smile and dial and as long as your idea isn’t completely outrageous, and you seem a little bit competent, you SHOULD be able to bag a few hundred thousand dollars.

However, this is not really the bets approach for raising anything above a small “friends and family/small angel round. In that case, have a proven product to market fit and competitive advantage, and it wont’ be hard to get in front of people who want to invest.

Reply

Jun Loayza March 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I’m curious, is this advice from first-hand experience?

How much money have you raised?

Reply

chaussures converse March 27, 2012 at 2:51 am

Thanks for the interesting information. I really enjoyed reading your blog and I look forward to read your next post. It is always fun to find great blogs.
I will recommend this blog to my friends!

Exciting news about visible progress at the Copper Shop. Now we understand why all the noise in the ‘finishing room’ and those overfilled dumpsters out back.

Reply

JunLoayza August 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I’ll ask Yu-kai to write a follow up post about this topic. He has read a lot more about it and was the one to write the term sheets for the funding.

We’ll come back with a detailed answer soon :)

Reply

John R. Sedivy August 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Awesome, thank you for your willingness to share this and I look forward to reading Yu-kai’s article on the subject!

Reply

Easyfundraising ideas February 2, 2012 at 5:57 am

Thanks for asking for this John, i have been looking for a expination of the VCs for a while, could you tell me were the follow up post is????

Reply

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