Can I Get a Little Help Here?

You need experience to hit up investors, but no one said it had to be your own.

David Macrae is a serial entrepreneur. After successfully growing three technology companies, he's at it again with Atlanta-based Bulletin.net. With this new company, Macrae hopes to capitalize on the need for expanded services from wireless carriers. Bulletin.net's software products enable a range of wireless devices to provide users with messaging, wireless applications, e-mail and wireless Internet access, and help integrate future technologies as they emerge. "The large telecoms are not equipped to develop and deploy these services to mobile professionals," says Macrae. "But a nimble company such as ours can." Like McDonald's, Macrae sees billions and billions to be served.

But, as Macrae is the first to admit, "No matter how many times you start a business, you almost always get to a point where it needs an infusion of equity capital from outside investors." That also means you'll have to face one of the greatest entrepreneurial quandaries: Should I try to raise the money myself, or should I hire a consultant to help me find the capital my business needs?

Macrae, 49, who has been down both routes before and has learned the ropes, is going it alone for his new company's $3 million raise. But he cautions, "Entrepreneurs should seriously consider outside help when it comes to raising money."

Russell Robb, managing director of Atlantic Capital Management and president of the Association for Corporate Growth, a trade group for deal-makers, is less ambivalent on this point. "If you are raising capital for an emerging-growth business," he says, "in most instances, an outside advisor is the safest, smartest way to go."

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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Can I Get a Little Help Here?.

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