Building up courage

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We started fundraising 2 months ago for our seed round, and I felt a bit lost.

I felt lost even after talking to others about how to properly do potential investors’ relations, having an achievable step-by-step plan on what to do (thanks to the content of many Youtube videos and DIY blog posts I consumed), there was a feeling that something is missing.

It is my first time raising a seed round, and like everything new - I discovered I lacked the courage to take on this new challenge. I was cautiously walking the path when I should have been jogging. Here is how I find the courage.

The support network I built to suport me as a founder helped me feel so conifdent in myself and what we do, that courage naturally followed suit. It takes a village to build a startup. Here are the key groups of my support network and how they helped me:

Our team

People tell me that fundraising is a full-time job. I already have a full-time job so I needed help to free some time for it. Our team has a meeting during which I explained to them our fundraising plan and deadline, and I asked for help. I asked to delegate some parts of my work to different people from the team so I have the proper time for fundraising. They all agreed and took on some responsibilities off my shoulders. You cannot imagine how this feels, and how big of a help this is. Try it with your team. If you do not have a team, seek mentors who can help you set your priorities straight and drop the tasks which consume your time and deliver little value to you and your startup.

Our Investors

We have a monthly (sometimes bimonthly) status update with our investors - Portugal Ventures. I seem to love those. Every time I suggest some contacts or intros we need help with getting - and they always know the right upper-level management person within the organization of interest to introduce us to. These introductions are warm and very effective. And when we are not talking about sales, our investors still suggest mentors and articles to read to get ideas about a particular problem we are working on that we want to optimize.

Our Incubation and Acceleration partners

We are a part of the communities of Casa do Impacto, Startup Lisboa and WAI Accelerate. These guys are great. Apart from the standard list of investors, mentors and office hours offer us access to, we can always send an email with a targeted request which is fulfilled within a week or so. My previous company was incubated by ESA BIC PT, and the people from the organization there still support me when in need and are always one phone call away.

A community of mentors

One such community is Femgems. I am a mentor at Femgems - and I am close with their founder - Dora, who build the company to help female entrepreneurs. However, sometimes I also need help, and when I do - I call Dora and I tell her about my problem and the profile of a mentor who I think might know how to help me. Then she takes a look at their database of mentors and comes back to me with 3-6 suggestions. Sometimes even 1 hour with a mentor who you never speak to again gives you all you need to turn things around.

The mentors people have introduced me to

Sometimes I keep in touch with my mentors. Or - let’s not call them mentors - but people who were more experienced than me in one aspect of business and life who I reached out to for an advice. When they cannot help, they usually build a mental map of their connections and search for someone who they know who might be able to help me. Then they introduce me to this person. This has not happened many times, but when it did - it was really great.

Summing it up together

Summing it up together - there is a community of 50+ people in my direct network who are my support network. If for a minute I think that I am alone, I remember about them - and pick up the phone or send an email.

Most importantly, I start to think that

Courage is the key ingredient to startup sales.

where sales might mean acquiring clients who bring revenue to my startup, and also gettng investors onboard to invest in the company you start to build together. If you are interested in startup sales, here are some advices I received from my mentors:

  1. B2B Startup Sales 101
  2. The 1 sentense sales pitch

Key Takeaways

  1. Create a support network of people who help you build courage
  2. Courage is the key ingredient for startup sales :)
  3. Sell

Image Credit: Jo Leonhardt on Unsplash.