Some of the coolest start-ups were launched out of dorm/living rooms or even from basements with little to no funding. But it is also true that rarely were they bootstrapped or funded out of their own pocket.
You need to raise funds in order to ‘get big’ and truly disrupt the industry you operate in - or perhaps even to create a new strand.
Get Introduced to Angel Investors or VCs
Investors are less likely to invest in companies they don’t know or don’t understand. That need not be a problem, however.
There are things you can do, even if you are in a re-start-up/early start-up stage to raise awareness quickly via a bespoke PR programme targeting the Angel Investors or VCs that matter.
It’s always the horse (start-up) or the jockey (founder) investors tend to admire first. While you hear all the time that you need to pitch to investors to get the funding, a lot fail to mention that you need to make a connection first.
Grab their attention, make them aware of your company and product before you outreach to them directly via an email or in person.
Update your LinkedIn profile with more insights on your current venture and start connecting with investors in your field. Join the groups; send out invites with a personal note and quick intros.
Start attending pitch fests and niche events, where your targets hang out. Tech London has an extensive list of such events.
Hire a professional to polish up your pitch and scout your network for connections. At DISRUPTIVE, we can help here - we have strong connections with investors and we know how to put a pitch deck together that will generate interest.
Consider The Governmental Financing Schemes
Funding your start-up can be done through borrowing on some good terms.
First, there’s the Start Up Loan, a government-backed scheme offering unsecured personal loans of up to £25,000, repayable at fixed 6% interest p/a. You are eligible if you have just started a company or have been trading for less than 24 months.
Launching a social enterprise? Big Issue Invest offers soft loans ranging from £50,000 to £3m for socially-driven entrepreneurs who strive to make a positive impact with their venture. They also offer ‘participation loans’, where repayment terms are linked to the future performance of the company.
If you want to obtain a direct grant, head straight to the government’s ‘business finance support finder’ with some 300 agencies listed, who offer financial assistance for innovative companies.
For instance, the ‘Grant for Business Development’ and ‘selective finance for investment’ offer to acquire capital assets within companies that generate employment grants. Catalyst for Growth offers direct grants ranging from of £5,000 to £500,000, available for chemical start-ups launching in the North West of England.
The ‘Gateway to Finance’ programme offered by The East London Small Business Centre (ELSBC), helps entrepreneurs in London, and particularly in East London, to raise funds for their venture.
Peer-to-Peer Loans and Micro-Loans
Arguably, the best-suited funding route for product start-ups. Not only does crowdfunding enable you to raise the necessary funds but it also lets you validate your product idea with the target market the same time.
For equity crowdfunding:
For general crowdfunding:
Corporate Venturing and Startup Incubators
Being incubated by larger companies means that you receive their resources (both physical and intellectual) in exchange for giving up a certain control and equity share of your company. Yet, you can find incredible partners and new connections as a result.
Start-up incubators will lend you the space and the resources too, along with some professional mentorship for a limited time only. Often, they will also organize the demo days for their alumni and put you in touch with investors.