The Supper Club toured to Manchester last week with their event, ‘Raising Finance to Scale’. Aimed at helping founders to navigate the unprecedented choice of the investment landscape, a panel of speakers offered first-hand wisdom to entrepreneurs searching for their perfect fit. Simon Swan, CEO of Hiring Hub, and Richard Hayes, Co-Founder of Mojo Mortgages, each gave presentations on their own experiences of fundraising. Peter Gray, Partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, offered advice from the other side of the pitching process.
A theme emerged from the panel and Q&A: fundraising for a business can be a long, painful process, with giddy highs and gut-wrenching lows. Fundraising pulls founders away from the real work – the running of the business – and takes an untold emotional toll.
But, Richard Hayes suggested, the angst and confusion can be put to good use. Refining the funding pitch for Mojo Mortgages also helped to drill down to the core of the business, and to the type of funding that would make the best match.
“Pitching helped us to find our USP and determine which fund type we were going to end up with,” Richard said. “I wouldn’t give up having gone through that process.”
Peter Gray, of Cavendish Corporate Finance, also encouraged hopeful entrepreneurs to treat fundraising as a learning opportunity – and to look beyond the headline sum to think about the investment relationship they want.
“It’s not just about the money,” Peter said. “There are lots of different boxes that need to be ticked before you decide who to get into bed with.” Do founders want the lesser pressure of a hands-off investor, or do they want a more intense, hands-on relationship that adds value and brings access to networks and experience? Peter added: “It’s a massively important decision but you have the luxury of choice.”
Whatever type of funding founders decide to pursue, they need to make the right impression. “You always have to be ready,” said Simon Swan. “You’re on show from the moment you send that first email.”
Richard Hayes boiled down his pitching advice into three questions: “Dumb it down. Ask yourself: What are you disrupting? How are you going to get there? And how on Earth are you going to make money?”