How to Raise $1/2 Million For Your Tech Startup When You’re Not a Techie
As CEO and Founder of BOLD Guidance, this is not the first company I have started, but it is my first software company. Had you asked me five years ago if I would run my own tech company I would have laughed and said no way. I loved developing college access programs through my other company; however, I soon realized that if I really wanted to make a big impact I needed more than a consulting practice. I learned that I cannot scale myself, but I can scale technology. This was the starting point of BOLD Guidance.
I recently did an interview with Biz Women Rock in this podcast to talk about my experience as a serial entrepreneur. In the podcast, I talk about being a non-technical founder of a company that revolves around a web and mobile app. I share strategies and tools that has helped me sell and iterate and explain how ultimately my passion and domain expertise in college admissions and career counseling drove my company’s success.
But even if you want to listen to the podcast later, here are some quick tips on what worked and the lessons I learned from my journey on how I raised my first $1/2 Million for my tech startup as a non techie.
Build Your Product With Your Customers: I spent over six months researching and truly understanding the pain points of my customers and what they needed. I talked to hundreds of students, counselors, and parents about their problems with the college admissions process. I even continued to solicit their input and feedback about potential solutions and features before I started any software development. This was helpful because my customers became invested in my success since they were a part of the idea process from the beginning. This was also helpful because I already had people who helped "build" the idea of BOLD Guidance who were willing to pay for it, which helped me convince investors to give me funding for my company. Your customers should be like your co-partners. Listen closely to what they need out of your product rather than assuming you know what they want.
Raising Money is about Relationships: Do you walk up to a stranger on the street and ask him/her to marry you? No. Just like dating and courtship, seeking investment is about getting to know each other and building a relationship. You want to introduce yourself to investors and show them over time that you are able to make progress, accomplish what you said you would do, and stick to it when things are hard.
Lessons Learned: Bring on a Technology partner or advisor early! Working with developers is like trying to explain something in Spanish when the other person only knows Arabic -- you are talking in two different languages. The earlier you can bring on a Tech (a.k.a Translator) person the less likely you are to make expensive software development mistakes that prolongs your development timeline. Your tech advisor can work with you to create the specific requirements and specifications your developers will need to effectively move forward with your product.
In this podcast, listen to my interview as I discuss my passion for helping students and entrepreneurs, what some of the major hiccups were in producing my software application, how I structured my tech "co-founder" relationship, and why getting involved with your local business community could be worth $1/2 million to your business.
Learn from my journey on how to position your company for investment through the Biz Women Rock podcast.
For those who are on their own journey of starting a company, what are some of the tips and lessons you have learned along the way?