by Chris Conant on June 22, 2021

It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was starting my first company. It started as a side gig, and as I recall, it stayed in “side gig status” for probably a year while I used funds from my first job to keep my side gig breathing. It sounds like an oxymoron, but there was so much to do before I even started.

I remember needing sales and business training, presentational material, legal contracts, business advice, supplies to build my work product, software subscriptions, phone, rented workspace, etc. People kept asking me for my “piano” and only later I realized they were asking for my P and L! I ended up with a year-long education on what was needed (or not needed) to truly put my company on track for growth.

I did my best to add value that entire year. Consequently, I had a much better company after one year, ready to receive investment, with just enough clients to have a story to tell. That in itself was a lesson on when to launch. I learned that I needed to turn my vision into a model. A concept or idea was not enough.

That season taught me a few other lessons, too, that I would like to share with you.

Producing that first customer out of thin air.

When you first start out, you may find yourself with no clients and challenged to produce something out of nothing. You need to create, build and/or present your concept or business offering to someone close to you who would be willing to give you feedback, ask you questions or even help you get started.

You will need time to practice your product or service with others and get their input in order to improve it and learn about some of the hurdles you will need to overcome. Ultimately, you need to find out if someone you know will also be willing to become your first client, customer or user. In exchange, you will give them your utmost attention, because they are also your first review, your first referral source, your first customer support, etc.

Chris Conant (far right) and his partner, Christopher Perry (middle), sold their first company, The Composition Group, a branding and web UX company at the height of the dot com industry (March 2000) to their new owners, D. Sharma and K. Stephens.

There are people who care about you and want to see you succeed.

I once heard this expression from a successful entrepreneur: “I didn’t get to where I was without others opening a few doors for me.”

Do you have friends or family members that could become that first client? Could they just give or possibly lend you enough money to get your concept ready as a model for others to experience? I know it takes money to make money, but your company needs to be at a minimum level to start taking on investment. You need to create enough of a substantial presentation to win a client or an investor. It’s difficult to recommend where to save costs here (because those first dollars are precious), but also, the first impression of a product, service or even an investment pitch is so important.

Who do you trust to help you?

I would look for those who are willing to sacrifice something on their end to benefit you. Perhaps it’s their time or their expertise. Are they in your life because they really care about your success, and they have no motive other than to just help you? Perhaps you can trade products or services for some of the initial support you may need (legal, marketing, etc.).

When it comes to investors, you must demonstrate that you have thought through a plan for revenue. You’re presenting a business model, not just a good idea. If you don’t know how to put a business plan together, try searching for a business plan/presentation from a company that is similar in industry, size and/or type and use it as a template and example to base your plan on. It still counts as an exercise in thought.

When communicating, find outside support for your business (e.g., data or reviews), let others see your passion for your product or service, and leave investors wanting more.

Don’t give away your equity. Sell it.

Be very conscious not to give your equity away to friends and family or causes. That’s a later-stage decision. While you may feel very generous toward them for their initial contributions, now is the time to show that you are wise, productive and prepared to lead the business to profitability. 

At such an early stage, reserve your equity for selling (i.e., raising capital via equity crowdfunding) to help achieve your plan and growth goals in the first year or two, rather than using equity as an early-stage gift. In fact, it would probably serve you better to find an actual gift that matches the interests of the person who helped you (e.g., swag from their favorite team, a rare collectible for their collection, etc.). They might forget they own 2% of your company, but they will never forget the lengths you went to express your gratitude for them.

Finally, you will be ready to start talking to more friends and family for investment. If your model is sound, and especially if sales have started, you’ll begin to experience some investor interest. A “friends and family” investor that loans or invests funds might receive 1-2% of your equity. And as always, you should find a startup-stage attorney and CPA to help inform your decisions and structure your agreements. With new SEC changes that favor the entrepreneur, I would highly recommend a Reg CF as the SEC-compliant structure under which you raise your capital. This will allow you to publicly promote your offering (up to $5M/12-month period), and in-take almost anyone as an investor to help you realize that dream.

It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.

Not every business makes it to an exit, so do not be discouraged. You never know what market conditions may cause your business to have to pivot. You should be encouraged that you have the unique gifts and skills associated with being an entrepreneur. I hope you embrace what is constant: there are stages and patience and hard work necessary to raise capital and run a business; others will help open doors; and remember to treasure a lifelong tenacity for growth, impact and learning.

Enjoy the journey!

____________________________________

By Chris Conant
Experienced Founder, CEO & Investor

Chris Conant has had a 20-year career as a branding and digital marketing founder and CEO having exited three times over. He is now the founder of Resound Structured Capital, a management company for investments in startups, real estate and structured crypto instruments. The Resound SPV Fund is not only still open, but is the largest investor in Fundify, and its most raving fan. Chris lives in Dallas, Texas with his beautiful wife Nancy and can be reached via resoundstructuredcapital.com.

This blog article is published by Fundify, Inc. The comments and opinions expressed within are those of the interviewee and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or Fundify, Inc.

by Amy Thompson on May 11, 2021

Your pitch video is a critical element of your equity crowdfunding campaign. A study presented at the IEEE Conference showed that the lack of a video reduces the probability of investment by 26%. (Read study.) And research by Wyzowl shows that 66% of consumers prefer to learn about a product by viewing a brief video rather than by reading text. (Source plus more video stats, if you’re not already convinced.)

So how do you create a powerful pitch video? It starts with a strong script. Here are key points to remember when scripting along with an outline we recommend for companies raising capital on Fundify.

 

Key Guidelines

  • Grab attention within the first 10 seconds. 
  • Use simple, conversational language as much as possible.
  • Write in second person. (Do you know how long it takes to … ? Rather than It takes x minutes to … .)
  • Do not simply convert your pitch deck into a pitch video. It’s an entirely different animal.
  • Keep your messaging high level; don’t get down in the weeds or inner workings of your business, product or service (e.g., KISS rule).
  • Avoid jargon or industry terms that the everyday Investor may not understand.
  • Remember potential Investors will hear your words, not read them. Think about how the words sound and break up long sentences.
  • Make an energetic pitch in 3 minutes or less.
  • Comply with the SEC’s regulations for campaign promotion. More on that later.

 

10-Point Pitch Video Outline
Use this outline as a guide but take the liberty to adjust based on the strengths of your business.

  1. Opening hook. In about 10 seconds, grab the viewers’ attention. This often begins with an emotional tug that’s backed up with facts soon after. In many cases, the hook shines a light on the problem you’re solving. But if your business is more about a unique advantage rather than a problem being solved, lead with your edge. Some examples could be an IP-driven tech play, a discovery or a proven team.

  2. Briefly tell why you started this business, but only if this is a compelling part of your company’s story.

  3. Show how you solve the problem with a product/solution benefit and then feature description. Mention your motto, tagline or key benefit statement (you’ll repeat this later).

  4. Specifically call out your differentiators. How do you solve this problem better than any other solution? Can you quantify with data how much better your solution is? If so, cite the stats and source.

  5. Describe the market size and/or potential. Investors need to know there is lots of room for growth here. Include the number of people in a category, dollars spent per year, growth rate or other high-level metrics that are key to your potential.

  6. Describe your traction and projections. Include revenue, sales, success of your pilot, registered users, downloads, daily active users, product development milestones achieved or other relevant data derived from your research. Reality check: Make sure your initial, three-year growth projections do not make you the fastest-growing company in history. (This often happens, and it raises flags for potential Investors.)

  7. Build credibility for your investment opportunity. Do you hold patents, FDA approval, industry certifications? Have you secured key partnerships? Won awards or pitch competitions? Have you earned high-profile media coverage? Have notable testimonials? Briefly show the strongest social proof for your company.

  8. Show how your team is the one to get this done. Do founders, board members or other team members have a track record of successful Startup experiences (any exits?) or prior industry experience? Do team members hold notable degrees or certifications? Consider mentioning prior employers that may also build credibility for what you’re proposing to build.

  9. Briefly describe how the funds raised will impact your business. Are you raising to hire key talent, secure IP registration, complete product development, fulfill orders or launch a marketing campaign? Let Investors know how you plan to grow your business with funding. Avoid mentioning the specific amount so that you can use this video beyond your campaign pages while complying with regulations (see below). This also gives you the flexibility to continue using the video if the amount you’re raising changes during the campaign.

  10. Close with a clear call to action (CTA). Invite people to invest in your company. Help people connect their own passions, motivations and investment interests to the mission of your business. Reinforce a key benefit statement you’ve already mentioned, such as your tagline. Consider creating multiple versions of your close so you can use the video across different channels.

 

Keep It Compliant

The SEC has specific rules for the promotion of an equity crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t follow the rules, you risk losing your ability to raise capital through this method. 

In general, you must avoid hyperbole (“the world’s greatest widget”), promissory statements (“revenue will double”) or claims that cannot be supported by data (“we’re 10x better” -- unless you have valid data to support that claim). 

In addition, campaign communications cannot mention both the offered investment terms (such as the amount being raised, price per share, etc.) and nonterms (such as your company’s unique selling points, market traction, etc.). Terms and nonterms must be communicated separately except on your funding campaign page. That’s one reason why we recommend you avoid mentioning the amount of funding you’re seeking or your valuation in your pitch video.

 

Write & Refine

With this, jump right in and write your script to show potential Investors why you believe so strongly in your company. When you’re happy with the script, read it out loud to yourself and time it. Then forward it to several people and invite their candid, “friendly fire” feedback to further refine.

If you need help finding a video producer to bring your script to life, reach out to us.

You can begin building your funding campaign on Fundify while your video is in production. Get started here

This blog article is published by Fundify, Inc. The comments and opinions expressed within are those of the interviewee and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or Fundify, Inc.

by Craig Fryar on November 20, 2020

You’ve completed your Startup Profile and submitted it to Fundify for approval. What can you do now to position your equity crowdfunding campaign for success? Here’s a quick checklist.

 

1. Polish Key Campaign Materials

  • Proof that pitch deck. Take another look at this all-important piece to ensure it communicates your unique advantages clearly, presents a consistent design throughout and is free of typos. Missteps here can create doubt for potential Investors.

  • Take one more look at your campaign cover photo. In today’s visual-driven world, it’s essential to lead with a quality image. Make sure your campaign cover photo looks good in the space. Does it quickly communicate a key point of your brand or product in a way that feels inviting to potential Investors? 

    If you need a better photo, consider shooting new images or access free, high-quality photos on Pexels, Pixabay or Unsplash. Do not use copyrighted photos found elsewhere without permission.

  • Check team members’ photos and bios. Potential Investors feel more connected to a Startup when they can see the people driving the growth. Make sure you’ve included a quality headshot for each member, preferably using a consistent background or style.
  • Test links. Have you included links from your campaign page to your press coverage, company website or social assets? Great! Test them to ensure potential Investors will find the information you want them to see.

  • Remove any placeholder text. Sometimes we all lorem ipsum an answer while finalizing details. (Lorem ipsum = placeholder text.) Check to ensure you’ve replaced any mock text with the real details. 

 

2. Rev Your Marketing Machine

  • Marketing checklist. The success of your campaign is directly related to the strength of your campaign’s marketing program. It’s so important that we’ve created a marketing checklist for Startups using the Fundify platform. It’s critical that you plan each step and prepare materials so they’re ready when needed.

  • Consider an Investor perks program. Some Startups offer perks to attract higher-level Investors, such as those who invest $250-$25,000. Perks, which are in addition to equity for investments on our platform, often take the shape of gratitude shown publicly to specific Investors, branded swag, product discounts or invites to behind-the-scenes events after the campaign. The program can be set up on your campaign pages before your funding campaign begins.

  • Assign roles and schedule key functions. You and your team will need to spend time each day driving your campaign. Have you identified who will reply to potential Investors on the campaign discussion board? Who will post updates inside the campaign? Who will keep your social media current and implement your marketing campaign? Now is the time to clarify roles and block off time on calendars.

 

3. Recharge Your Mind

  • Downtime may be a luxury for the coming weeks. Rest now, recharge your mind and get ready for a fast-paced campaign that can help take your business to the next level.

Have questions about your campaign? Find the answers in our Knowledge Base or contact us.

This blog article is published by Fundify, Inc. The comments and opinions expressed within are those of the interviewee and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or Fundify, Inc.