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3 Strong Alternatives For Startups To Raise Capital

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Keeping with the same theme of bringing you worldwide game changers to help give your startup the best advice, I recently interviewed Jonathan Barouch from a company called Local Measure. With clients like Starbucks, McDonalds, Newscorp, Sydney Opera House, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Qantas and one of Disney ABC’s subsidiaries in the USA, they are now getting ready to expand into Europe. These organisations use Local measures platform to see engagement, manage customer service and help with publishing, and tracking of operational issues.

Local Measure is a local content platform that aggregates location-based content from social media, for brands and businesses to leverage. If you’re Newscorp and you want to have local content to support your editorial, then local measure is really good at grabbing local photos and videos from breaking news or a concert. You might be wondering if many people actually tag their location.

On a platform like Instagram, most people share their location or tag the event that they are at. Facebook has a much smaller number of users that tag their location and geotagging on Twitter is growing more and more.

If you were at the Sydney Cricket Ground for a cricket game, Local Measure could track where in the stadium a tweet came from and aggregate all the tweets around the stadium. This information could then be used by the stadium, team, sponsor or media to get a 360 view of all the content that was shared from that game. The only tweets that are visible in this example, are ones where the user has checked in or geotagged their location, which means it’s in the public domain. Local Measure’s technology then allows a brand to converse with the fans, engage with the influencers and grab all the content from the game to use on their website.

Local Measure’s technology then allows a brand to converse with the fans, engage with the influencers and grab all the content from the game to use on their website.

Being a tech startup, Local Measure didn’t take the usual route of raising money via venture capital and raised money through cash flow, a few different funds, high net worth individuals and a company listed on the Australian stock exchange.

 

1. Using cash flow to pay for growth

It’s often seen as very cool for tech startups to funds via Venture Capital and before they actually need to. However, the normal way that businesses raised capital for 100’s of years was to plow their profits back into the business, rather than taking money out or paying dividends.

If you had a cash flow positive business (where you are paid before you have to expend money on goods or services) there would be a cash float to fund the growth. A great example of this was Jonathan’s previous e-commerce business, which was one of the first flower and gift sites in Asia. Money Plant. Advice for startups and successOften customers paid up front for their order before special occasions like Valentines Day, but they didn’t actually need to deliver the goods until 4 weeks later.

This created a healthy cash balance which they could invest a portion of, for growth, on things like marketing. Even though this business didn’t create any profit in its first year, the following years were profitable and they invested this money back into their business. This simple strategy is often overlooked by entrepreneurs, but it’s a great way to raise capital.

If you’re not getting money in advance then this strategy can still work but it depends on how profitable your startup is. The choice you have to make is do you want to fund for growth, pay dividends or pay the founders a higher wage? The answer should be pretty simple; short-term pain for long-term gain.

 

Tips for improving cashflow
  • Invoicing on the first day of the month can be really helpful especially if you have corporate clients who might pay in 60-90 days. The quicker you get your invoice out the quicker you get paid.
  • Consider your payment terms and try and invoice a month in advance so that you have been paid before you have actually had to provide the service.
  • Negotiate with your existing debtors to see if you can change the payment terms more towards your favor (this is quite hard with corporates).Don’t get lazy with your receivables and make sure that you only have very minimal amounts of money owed to you at any one time. A great way to help with overdue invoices is to send out reminders to your debtors on one week and the on the alternate week, follow this up with a call to the payables officer within the debtors company.
  • Don’t get lazy with your receivables and make sure that you only have very minimal amounts of money owed to you at any one time. A great way to help with overdue invoices is to send out reminders to your debtors on one week and the on the alternate week, follow this up with a call to the payables officer within the debtors company.
 All of this helps fund your growth!
Local Measures Office

Local Measures Office

2. Private Equity

The simplest way to start is by looking to your family and friends to raise capital from. If this is not an option then you might go the next step, which is private equity.

Traditional private equity is middle age men in dark suits, sitting in big city offices, who run big funds or private equity firms. Private equity is now a lot broader and can really be anyone who has money to place in return for equity.

When you look for private equity you might find that your startup could be too small for some and too large for others. It’s a matter of having the meetings to work this out as you go. Don’t despair, if the private equity fund says you are not right for them, individuals within the fund could invest in you personally – this actually happened to Jonathan.

 “Pounding the pavement is the best friend of an entrepreneur”

A warm intro from family, friends, people you went to school with, people you went to university with, or even people you work with, are the best avenues to find someone to invest in you privately. There are quite
a lot of high net worth individuals and angel investors who will happily write cheques in the thousands to help you. These people are located in the USA, Australia, Asia and even starting in Europe now. This route is great for a Seed Round or even a Series A Round. If you’re a tech startup, once your past these rounds then Venture Capital is the next place to start looking unless you have assets which you can get debt over.

In Jonathan’s Local Measure business, he visited around 15-25 different sources of funding before he found the right one. Raising this money happened within about 48 hours because they had some large corporates already using their service. Having corporate clients can really help to give belief in your startup and raise money quickly.

“The better you’re doing, the easier it is to raise money”

Before approaching a bank, remember that most of them won’t lend money to early-stage entrepreneurs unsecured. A bank is a good when you want them to finance over a fixed asset like some computer equipment or stock, and they can use that asset as collateral (security). If you’re building a tech startup a banks probably going to be less interested in providing debt because it’s higher risk, even though it has a higher return. Funding growth, expansion or research and development, is just not what banks do.

If you don’t want to give away equity you can also look to raise money privately via some sort of debt facility where you pay a higher amount of interest (10%-15%). The downside of this is that you’re stripping out cash flow every month to pay back the interest.

 

3. Crowdfunding

Every country has a different landscape with crowdfunding. Places like the USA have lots of money available on these platforms, but obviously that comes with a lot more competition for that money at the same time. When looking at crowdfunding you need to choose the platform that best suits your product or service. A cool success story that Jonathan invested in and used crowdfunding, was Life X who had the lightbulb that you could control with your smartphone.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo

Funded with kickstarter startupsBoth of these platforms are great when there is a physical product or service, and you’re raising money on the promise of delivering that product or service at some point. In this case, the crowdfunding is not really funding but more pre-purchasing. These platforms can also be a quick way to generate marketing or interest for your startup so that you can generate the cash to go and execute it.

Angellist

People put up their profile and their bio and keep it up to date. It’s like a mini LinkedIn for tech companies. As a tech startup, you can put out a call for funding and then angels can band together to fill up a round.

Our Crowd (John Medved)

They have their own fund and invest off their own balance sheet. They then split the rest of the equity across high net worth and angels. By packaging up the two methods, it makes it easy for startups to raise capital. On this site you upload all your financials, the story, the model and a video, and then investors login to the site to see if they like your business. Even if you don’t raise money from the platform it’s a good marketing exercise because some relatively influential people are getting to hear your story.

Chuffed

If you’re into social enterprise or not for profits then you should look at Chuffed. There are lots of great causes although the sums raised are usually below $100k.

 

Final Note

Knowing how much equity to give away is always challenging and you have to do what you need to in the moment. If you need other people’s money to grow then giving away equity is the price you have to pay. With the benefit of hindsight, every entrepreneur is always a genius.

“Every entrepreneur always wishes that they owned more of their own company”

As entrepreneurs, you often try and raise money too early because you are naturally bullish and want to grow. Sometimes it’s better to hold off on raising more capital and demonstrate traction first. When you can demonstrate more traction you can have more of a premium in your valuation and then you don’t have to give away as much equity – don’t go broke in the meantime though. In a B2B business, like Jonathans, the types, quantum, and quality of the customer base demonstrate traction. It’s also demonstrated by the recurring revenue, having low churn, a high renewal rate and a revenue stream that’s constantly growing.

When you can demonstrate more traction you can have more of a premium in your valuation and then you don’t have to give away as much equity – don’t go broke in the meantime though. In a B2B business, like Jonathans, the types, quantum, and quality of the customer base demonstrate traction. It’s also demonstrated by the recurring revenue, having low churn, a high renewal rate and a revenue stream that’s constantly growing.

“The only two things a startup should worry about is hiring great people and not running out of cash”

Having what’s called “smart money” is more important than just having money. This is why venture capital is quite attractive to a lot of entrepreneurs because they add prestige, knowledge, street cred and advice that is highly sort after. When you have smart investors on board it’s a good idea to try and have some local ones so that you can be involved with them hands on. When you combine these investors with great advisors you have a really solid group of people around you that can be out talking about your startup.

Local Measure has an advisory board made up of a very senior Vice President of Google in North America, a Senior Product person at Salesforce in San Francisco, a Senior Executive of a tech company in Singapore and a well-known Chief Operating Officer of a large media company in Australia.

Bringing these types of people on to offer advice is really valuable, but try and make sure they have some skin in the game (equity) so that they can be rewarded when you succeed. Jonathan says that how you tell your story and how you demonstrate traction is what will help you to attract talent to your startup. People who are a little bit further on in their career are really keen to give back and might be attracted to help your startup.

Jonathan Barouch of Local Measure talks about raising money for startups

Jonathan Barouch of Local Measure

 

I hope you got some ideas on some other ways to raise capital and feel free to head over to Local Measure if you want to know more about what Jonathan Barouch and his team do.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Absolutely Tara

    Mar 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Great resource list. Definitely some crowd funding resources I’d never heard of. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tim Denning

      Mar 18, 2015 at 8:54 am

      No problem Tara and thanks for checking out the article.

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Startups

You Are The Problem With Your Business

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A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.

I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.

Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.

Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?

Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.

The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.


Your company is a reflection of you.

It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.

One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.

The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.

In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.

The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.

The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.


Take responsibility and it will change.

When you own the business, everything is your fault.

You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.

The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.

Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.

Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.


Change is a must.

Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.

Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”

You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.

Change you.

Not the business.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up

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startup success
Image Credit: Unsplash

You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.

How to Evaluate Success

As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.

But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson

The Numbers

When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?

The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.

So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.

1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems

The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.

This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.

In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.

2. Impact

Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).

In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.

“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins

3. Freedom

For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.

The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.

Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.

4. Time for Friends and Family

As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.

Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.

A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.

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Startups

The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.

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spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.

I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.

People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.

This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.

I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.

I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.

That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.


Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.

I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.

They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.

All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.


Your clients tell you every day that you suck.

I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.

Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.

The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.

That wasn’t it.


You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.

I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.

Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.

The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.

They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.

“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.

I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.

The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.

It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.

The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.


You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.

A good business solves a problem.

That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.

This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.

Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.

Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.

Solving only your problem will make you poor.

The problem still wasn’t their website or product.


Creating more problems.

Everything this business owner sold created more problems.

They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.

They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.

They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.

Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.

If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.


The heart of the problem.

It’s the business owner.

The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.

The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.

You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.

Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.

Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Entrepreneurs

18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups

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business books

Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)

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