How to Make the Most of Your Startup’s Big Fundraising Moment • businessupdates.org

by Ana Lopez

Late stage startups are faced major fundraising headwinds, but early stage investments did still a bright spot for startups until they reach Series B rounds.

Traditional venture capital dollars are harder to come by these days, but institutional investors are still looking for smart investments and industry watchers are hungry for the good news that suggests a new round of funding. While the market is uncertain, founders should be prepared to use their capital injections as an asset beyond the money it represents.

In any market environment, a fundraising event can act as a vote of confidence or confirmation from investors, supporting the growth of your business through talent acquisition and brand awareness. Regardless of the size of the round, securing outside investment is an important milestone in many companies’ journey, and it often takes tremendous effort. However, many founders make the mistake of letting a funding opportunity pass without getting all the value out of it they could have after putting all that work into it.

Over the course of my 20+ years as a marketing leader at startups, venture capital firms, and large technology firms, I’ve helped dozens of companies announce funding news ranging from $1 million pre-seed rounds to $50 million raises.

Here’s my playbook for founders who want to take their “big money” moments further:

Rethink assumptions about fundraising news

By publishing financing news, you can create incremental value beyond the capital investment by highlighting your momentum and increasing your brand awareness.

Founders may overlook the value of announcing funding news for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that the round isn’t “big enough” to warrant attention. When you see other companies raising hundreds of millions of dollars, it can be easy to think that no one will be interested in hearing about your startup’s much smaller round.

Fortunately that is not true. While large numbers can make for splashy headlines, smaller rounds can still generate interest if the announcement is executed well and you can tie the news to a larger industry/technology/society trend.

Another reason founders hesitate is if the new capital is wholly or partly through a debt investment. Although it is become increasingly commonespecially with VC investors pumping the breaks, there’s still a stigma around debt financing, and founders may worry they’ll be penalized for adding debt to their balance sheets.

However, securing a debt investment often requires even more precision than an equity investment, so highlighting a debt increase may actually indicate that your company’s fundamentals and revenue numbers are strong enough to support repayment.

Founders may also worry about giving competitors too much information about their company and would rather make progress while flying under the radar. There are benefits to keeping certain information secret, but it’s important not to get so focused on building behind closed doors that you miss the opportunity to gain more visibility with the prospects and partners who will increase sales.

Finally, sometimes funding announcements just aren’t at the top of a founder’s lengthy to-do list, largely because they’re either unsure how to execute an announcement or lack the marketing expertise to execute it effectively. This next section should help on that front.

Three steps to maximize the marketing value of your fundraiser

The future is unknown, so if you’ve locked in a funding round and have money in the bank, you have the opportunity to make the biggest impact with the news in your hands.

To seize this moment and be successful, you must:

Step 1: Plan ahead

Preparing a fundraising announcement takes time and strategic thinking. Once you get to the point in your investor conversations where term sheets are a likely next step, you need to assemble your marketing team to start working on a plan. This includes aligning with your investors early on their ability to participate in a news announcement.

Some key questions for your marketing leader to consider include:

  • Who can provide public quotes or comment on the investment?
  • What are the key messages you want to communicate about this round and what messages do you want your investors to convey?
  • When will the investor be available to view announcement materials and participate in potential media interviews?

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