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For many entrepreneurs a fund raise is like a root canal, an unavoidable, painful process that needs to be done. The entire process of pitching to various VCs, term sheets, due diligence should logically get easier if you are a mature start up.
When you set to raise SeriesC you must have already proven concept, built a team, developed robust systems, established scale and generated some matrices that make sense to existing investors.
Indian startups have signed more deals this year that last year and have already raised over $ 3.5 billion in the first half of 2015. Individual firms like Paytm have raised $680 million in a single round. In such an environment, raising funds for a proven concept should be a breeze.
The Market Has Its Moods
Every few months the flavour of the month changes and if you are not in the “hot” category the fund raise is a challenge. Currently, e-commerce/ logistics/ App based business are the flavour. If you are not a part of the “flavour of month” it does not mean you do not solve a purpose.
It just means fund raise will be difficult and valuations a struggle. Mydentist has 103 clinic, over 1000 employees, serves over 300,000 patients and a robust marketing plan. It was a known brand and with customer stickiness. It was still very difficult to raise funds. I learnt, that if you do solve a problem at a reasonable cost and are in a business that does show a cash flow then persist.
Among one of the pre-requisites to be an entrepreneur are passion and perseverance and these qualities are to be nurtured - it is what you need in dark times.
The Essence of Teamwork
The investor and promoter partnership is based on mutual understanding, respect and mutual benefit. At a point when fund raise is difficult you have doubts about your self and the business - you need friends. As difficult as it sounds, choose investors who you like as people and who you will be honoured to have as friends.
On the business side, are the goals aligned on milestones? It made a world of difference to me when my existing investors told me to focus on running Mydentist and let them worry about the fund raise. Focus on people, knowledge and then valuation when you choose investors.
The other crucial factor is the core team in your start up. These are the people who believed in your vision when it was just a concept on paper. You will appreciate that you took time to choose the right core team during a stressful fund raise. They are s the ones who knows you will manage the fund raise, even when you have doubts. They will rally the troops and keep the spirit high internally.
The need to change: Volatility is a part of the start up space when a fund raise does not happen you need to re look at costs.
Every centimetre of fat and flab must go for you change from a sprinter to a marathoner. This will mean relooking people, process, vendors and taking tough decisions. What worked at the start-up phase may not work at consolidation phase and as a promoter you will have to learn to take difficult decisions.
At some stages you will be Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver. However, you will also have to be Shiva the destroyer. Creating and preserving is easy – re invention causes pain .Get used to it.
The need to invest: In the midst of all the madness, my Sunday morning walk at the beach with my son was sacrosanct. My daily walks were an essential part of de -stressing. While work –life balance is not possible it is essential to work on your physical fitness too- consider it as an investment for your organisation!