COVID-19 created a lot of financial challenges. In regard to startups one of the biggest issues is "how to raise funding"
First published on Femstreet
Jessica Lin is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Work-Bench, where her focus is on investments in the future of work and teams. Her passion for growing and supporting women in tech enterprise, have led her to launch aNavigate Women in Enterprise Tech Summit and Founders of Enterprise Startups (Who Are Women) Database.
Prior to Work-Bench, she was a Learning and Development Manager at Cisco Systems, where she worked with the Engineering organization on Agile transformation, innovation and culture.
Last week, in a live Q&A, she answered questions around fundraising in the current climate, how to adjust your B2B sales strategy, virtually pitching a VC, term sheet negotiations, planning for downside scenarios and recovery and more.
Q: When you say the bar will be higher in these times for fundraising, what should startups that have built relationships with investors and are keen to go full steam ahead be doing to differentiate themselves and raise their fundraising game in terms of prep, process, engagement etc.?
A: It’s everything you’d expect in a normal fundraising process – but everything needs to be even more precise, from your dataroom to all your data points.
I’d also acknowledge the current situation and be as thoughtful and realistic as possible about your forecasts, to show how you’re taking into account the current situation (and unfortunately worst case scenarios) and how to best navigate.
Q: What questions should founders raising in this climate ask funds and investors to make sure they are partnering with people who are prepared to support them through tough times?
A: Great question. I would ask:
Q: I would love to know your thoughts on how SAAS and developer tooling B2B sales strategies should change in this climate?
A: I hear you. Many B2B startups rely on conferences to be a strong source of lead-gen – especially for developer communities.
Q: From a B2B sales perspective how would you go about it now?
A: I would recommend thinking about it 2 ways right now: your existing customers and new customers.
Q: We were about to launch our pre-seed round and had been in early convos with angels/early-stage VCs – our business is in women’s health tech/digital community space and so in this current climate our product would do really well so we’re focussing on pushing out our beta program asap as a result (before this, we were waiting to launch it post fundraise).
We’re in two minds about whether to keep pushing on with the raise or wait and focus on getting that traction, (if we wait however we can’t employ our team properly which may slow our progress/ability to onboard lots of users).
Would love your thoughts on what you would prefer to see as an investor, should we keep up the convos and try push a few to close or take a step back and let them know we’re focussing on traction?
A: Congrats on having built what sounds to be such an important platform in women’s health!
Q: Do you have any advice for B2B sales in this environment where we are selling a product that helps enterprises work with their small suppliers better (we provide a simplified procure to pay software for managing long-tail suppliers that saves buyers time/money and also offer the suppliers on the other side faster payment on their invoices), and getting the tone of those sales pitches right given the ongoing crises?
A: I think so much of it comes down to empathy – empathy for the customer who may be going through their own business challenges right now. Empathy in your pitch – and positioning it as mission critical. And empathy in recognizing that if it’s not mission critical right now, that’s ok too…and still in delivering value through content/webinars/strategies that can be helpful to them, so when we do get past these challenging times, you have built a strong brand and association of empathy.
Q: Thanks for sharing today and for creating the women enterprise founders db – super useful. This is pretty specific. Do you have any businesses in your portfolio who either offer a product around supply chain management, or have you gotten feedback from any of your companies navigating changing supply chains? I’m curious which tools are useful and what kind of dashboards or other operational monitoring tools people are finding useful. Thanks!
A: Unfortunately we haven’t done much in supply chain management. We really respect Schematic Ventures though! https://www.schematicventures.com/
Q: Would you recommend starting a journey for investment now or rather hold until later?
A: If you have runway for 18 months (or can get yourself to that amount of time), I would recommend holding until later.
Q: What is your view on the B2G market and how it will be impacted?
A: While we don’t do any govtech work, I imagine the government market like many others will generally be slower to sell into during this specific uncertain time.
Q: Would love your thoughts on best practices for virtual pitching and how founders might want to switch it up as opposed to live pitches.
A: I honestly thought the best write-up on this was put together by Jane VC: https://twitter.com/Maren_Bannon/status/1240003848225333250, check it out.
Q: What are investors to founders needing to raise within the next 60-90 days and what’s your advice?
A: My best advice would be 2-fold:
“We need to organise our work better ánd smarter” says Martine Meijburg. Meijburg founded Second Degree in 2013; the first LinkedIn marketing agency (worldwide). A success, as the agency became one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands (Silver FD Gazellen Award in 2016), servicing clients such as Philips, KLM and Microsoft.
Martine is an author, public speaker and was listed in The Next Women 100 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the Adformatie100 in 2017. She shares with us her experiences as an entrepreneur and member of The Next Women.
She got into the world of recruitment because she showed talent for it and acted on that: at TNW we love playing out your strengths. Now, with her own company and being a mother of two, Dayanara Vonk Ilaria reflects on her journey: “Leadership really is learning how you can influence yourself.”