Confidence Is Key to Raising Startup Cash, Say Philly Entrepreneurs

"Get in front of investors and convince them it's inevitable that your product will own the market."

Madeline Winter (left) and Yasmine Mustafa at Founder Factory. (Photo courtesy of Philly Startup Leaders.)

Madeline Winter (left) and Yasmine Mustafa at Founder Factory. (Photo courtesy of Philly Startup Leaders.)

Speaking at Founder Factory (a daylong conference of local entrepreneurs presented by Philly Startup Leaders) yesterday, three Philly entrepreneurs shared their successes — and failures — in raising all-important cash.

Yasmine Mustafa certainly knows a thing or two about raising money. She’s the co-founder of Roar For Good, which created a wearable distress-signaling device aimed at deterring assaults against women. It launched one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns in recent memory, raising $296,000 — far surpassing its goal of $40,000.

But the company has also gotten plenty of money from angel investors. One, Mustafa said, came from telling her story to a passerby at a conference, who turned out to be a socially minded investor at Ben Franklin Technology Partners who wired $75,000 that same week — then invested another $25,000 later.

Pro Tip: Change your mindset. Approach investors like you have something they need — not the other way around. And it’s ok to say no. Take money from people you think are aligned with the company’s mission.

Justin Goldman is co-founder and CEO of Zoomer, which brings logistics and technology to food delivery. He told the Founder Factory audience that finding your first investor is “10 to 20 times harder” than getting investment afterwards. Zoomer got a jump-start after being accepted into YCombinator, which brings founders to Silicon Valley for three months for intensive training that refines their investment pitches (and opens lots of doors).

He said it’s all about showing investors that your startup has momentum.

“Get in front of investors and convince them it’s inevitable that your product will own the market and that your company is going to raise capital whether they invest or not,” said Goldman.

Pro tip: Make sure a presentation to investors is a back-and-forth, which is much better than “rambling for 30 minutes straight,” he said.

Madeline Winter is vice president of operations at BioBots, a company that uses 3D-printing technology to build living tissues out of human cells. (Pretty cool, right?)

She admitted that BioBots went about it’s funding all wrong. It identified its most-likely investors and pitched them first, rather than practicing on the least-likely ones to help hone their pitch.

“We totally screwed up badly … it was a huge learning point for us,” said Winter.

But the company rebounded, raising $1.25 million in September from a few different sources. It was the product of hard work and different team members lugging around a 22-pound robot on the New York subway and from couch-to-couch in San Francisco.

Pro tip: When you get advice about your pitch, make a change right away. “Drop the pride. Do it quickly,” said Winter. “Keep changing with every pitch you do.”

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