How to raise Seed Capital for a Start-up?

Starting your own business can altogether change your life completely; however, it’s not an easy task as it takes a lot of courage, energy, and willpower. To add to it, a well-defined vision is what every leader needs to have to cross the finish line. Secondly, a start-up needs to envisage how to monetize from the very beginning, as the initial investment counts, particularly for potential investors. Also, one of the biggest myths about starting a business is to think that you can do it alone, but the truth is you cannot build and manage a great business without help, as it’s not a one-man army staff and you’d need your own staff at some point of time. Your staff is the team that’d work with you on a daily basis to help build your business. They will help you draw a marketing strategy that will make you know the direction your business should be in. No idea is 100% full proof and an investor always depends on his gut feeling to decide whether to invest in a venture or not. The total amount an investor would like to invest also depends on a thorough assessment based on the available data he has with him. However, once the assessment is done, the final decision comes from intuition.

Today, several founders fear the day when they are unable to continue to work on their start-up project without finding an investor for some funding. On the contrary, some serial entrepreneurs build on the capital raised, seeking out great, scalable thoughts/ideas and working on them swiftly with the help of an early stage funding followed by a series of a round in quick succession. Nevertheless, every start-up has varied requirements just as every founder works on a different game plan, however, when it comes to considering how and how much to raise, there are some points that every start-up must consider.

Before we move on to the ‘how’ and ‘how much’, let’s understand what is seed funding? Seed funding/capital can simply be described as the initial capital raised by a company/start-up for its built-up. Now the question, why is seed capital required? Seed capital is an important aspect for a start-up without which it would fail even to get started. A good amount of money not only lets a start-up to live and grow but also paves the way for a competitive advantage over its rivals in terms of hiring people, marketing their business and indulging in public relations. Thus, most start-ups would always want to raise a good amount of money to cash on early to this competitive advantage.

How much Seed Funding is required by Start-ups?

Without a proper seed funding majority of the start-ups would die. Thus, ideally a start-up would require as much money as it would need to reach profitability, so that it doesn’t require raising money again. If the start-up tastes success here then not only will it find easier to raise money in future, it will also be able to survive without any new funding to face any financial challenges that might rise. Having said that, their aim must be to raise as much money as required that would sustain them till the next year and a half. By now we know what’s seed funding and what its significance for a start-up is? Now let’s look at another major aspect which is the means from where the start-ups can get seed funding. Though there are several ways through which they can avail seed funding, we have listed some few important ones.

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Crowdfunding Campaign

Today, majority of the start-ups look at crowdfunding as a major source of seed funding. Reason is, a vast amount of website crowdfunding platforms being available, such as Kickstarter through which millions were raised in the past. For start-ups lacking any major sponsor from the family, crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds.

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Funding through Business Accelerator

Start-ups looking for seed funding can at times look at some business accelerators for help. Majority of accelerators offer small seed investment up to a certain amount along with mentoring, workspace and professional services, in return for an equity stake in the company.

Seed Funding through Corporate

Established giants such Google, Intel and FedEx do provide seed funding to promising start-ups working on some new technologies.

Start-up Incubator Seed Funding

Unlike accelerators who provide a particular program to start-ups for a fixed period of time, generally 3 to 4 months, incubators tend to be more open ended. Still, they often offer small seed investments, similar to those of accelerators. Several local bodies provide these to facilitate local new business development.

Seed funding is an essential and at times excruciating task most start-ups face. A founder should aim to raise more funds in the shortest possible time and the above points will certainly bring a sigh of relief that would lessen the agony and maximise chances.

Tips for women entrepreneurs of India

The idea of business is mostly frowned upon, especially if you are starting from the scratch. Nevertheless, many have carved a niche for themselves in this crazy rat race. Many initiatives are transformational. In recent times, a lot of women are seen taking up phenomenal initiatives. They no longer wish to stick to their kitchens, and are actually seen exploring the real world. They are the true change-makers of the society. They are seen breaking stereotypes and fighting against the school of old thoughts. How did these women fight against all the odds? Let’s take a look at few of these significant change-makers, and find out their secret success mantras.

  • Anu Aga- A well-known businesswoman, ex chairperson of Thermax and an active philanthropist, Anu Aga is a great source of inspiration to many young women. She is the perfect blend of business and social commitments. Anu Aga’s business and struggle stories are told country wide to create awareness about entrepreneurship.
  • Shaheen Mistri- At the age of 20, Shaheen started ‘Akankasha’, a non-profit educational initiative. She later went to head Teach for India, which aims at recruiting some of the brilliant leaders across the country to work towards educational equity. Her mission sees no end. At TFI, the number of youths is increasingly exceeding every year and working towards a common cause.
  • Suchi Mukherjee- LimeRoad is a commonly downloaded app. Meet this woman who came up with the idea of LimeRoad. Fashion needed new insights. After having worked at some of the most reputed organizations such as Skype, Suchi decided to start her own business. And well, LimeRoad says it all.
  • Priya Naik- Samhita Social Ventures was founded by Priya Naik. This organization crowd-funds for various NGOs and corporations. After having studied in some of the A-list universities, Priya decided to invest her skills into this venture.

How can women be successful entrepreneurs?

  • Getting out of your comfort zone- It’s completely okay to synchronize work and your personal life. But great things happen when you step out of your comfort zone. A few baby steps and maybe one giant step is all you need.
  • Mind sets- So, yeah. People will compare you with men, there are going to be gender biases. You need to put these prejudices aside and trust your instincts. Because, on the field, regardless of the gender, every individual is an entrepreneur first.
  • Crowdfunding- Sufficient funds is a must before you initiate any venture- be it for registration of the office. Do the right publicity and raise enough funds. Bankruptcy during the initial phases is something better kept far.
  • Create a support system- With all the discouragement you are likely to go through, it is very important to have a healthy balance between your hard work and emotional well-being. Build a proper network, gather supporters. They’ll pick you up on your off days.
  • Just start- Finally, remember, no idea is big or small. And the right time to start, is now.

‘Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is’.

Neha Jain

Co-Founder, Z Nation Lab

How to pitch a VC?

What is venture capital?

Venture capital is the money that is invested in start-ups and similar emerging organizations. This capital is typically occurs after seed funding. A large number of start-ups choose to go for venture capital in order to raise capital. Venture capital plays a major role in helping the companies with business functions like technical and marketing skills, financial literacy and so on. Venture capital supports organizations in these four stages-

  • Ideating – Brain storming and generating an idea for business.
  • Start-up – Taking the initial steps.
  • Growth and expansion – Consistently working towards organizational development and growth.
  • Exit – The venture capital wraps up with its assistance in this final stage.

So, how to pitch a VC?

What is that one thing that a venture capitalist looks for before investing? Well, the answer is simple. It’s the people of that organization. It’s about your commitment towards your product and creation. Venture capitalists look at your knowledge and passion. Do not fail to do your research and have your vision in place before you reach out to a venture capitalist. Bring it to the table and he would gladly take a step in investing in your business.

Having the required skills before pitching a VC has its own big benefit. As a matter of fact, not every person is likely to possess a full set of these skills, but taking ownership to develop them can create an impression and an impact on the investor.

Now, while you talk to the venture capitalists, keep it short and crisp. Experts have stated that long power point presentations have not always succeeded. Instead, they look for a clear, straight picture about the organizational needs.

Lastly, assure the venture capitalist that he is a strong stakeholder in the organization. He needs to know he’s done the right thing by investing in your business.

And finally, remember to keep it catchy with your presentation.

Neha Jain

Co-Founder, Z Nation Lab

Idiot’s Guide For Promoting Your Business Online

We live in the age of the internet. Everything you do, everywhere you go and even everything you eat ends ups on the internet for everyone to see. One post or one photo can reach out to millions of people in a matter of few minutes across multiple platforms. The power of this tool called World Wide Web is unimaginable. So why not use it for your business?

Let’s assume, you have an amazing idea. You go ahead and work towards it.  After days (or months, years) of hard work, your product is ready. Now, what? You need to market it using the internet, which now-a-days is known as digital marketing. With about 85% searches for products and services happening online, an online presence is an absolute must, especially for small businesses. Online leveraging and gaining visibility among the consumers should be given top priority if you truly wish your company to be successful. Automated marketing solutions help you to save time. You can utilize that time to run your business better. Let internet marketing double your efforts!

 Internet Marketing: WHY?
  • Saves plenty of time.
  • Super cost effective.
  • Your business is open round the clock.
  • Mass audience can be targeted at one go.
  • Your business can literally reach any part of the world.
  • Localization of your business to local markets is possible.
  • Audience analysis is possible with better statistics and insights.
  • Personalized communication with consumers is possible that helps build relationships that ultimately helps in building brand loyalty.

 

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Internet Marketing: How?

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Specialized Digital Marketing Companies

If you have generated a considerate amount of capital, you can outsource your branding and marketing work to companies that specialize in digital marketing. They will help you build your brand from scratch. From designing to marketing, they will handle everything. You can collaboratively work with them to achieve your business objectives. This method will give you more time to run your business and also increase sales.

If you decide to deploy marketing campaigns on your own, keep the following in mind:

 Website is the Boss

Build a search engine optimized website that is simple, easy to use and mobile friendly. The website name should be catchy and should offer the company’s intent to the audience.

Content is King

Have top quality content on all your platforms (website, social media, print, etc.) Try to make it as creative as possible. Use suitable keywords so that your website can be easily tracked.

Change is the only thing that is Constant on the Internet

Constantly update your website with new content to increase audience interaction. Keep adding new and interesting material to increase viewers.

Digital Marketing Strategy is a Must

Every company has a different strategy depending on their product or service. Come up with a strategy that suits your company.  Get smarter insights and improve on the areas where you are lacking. Promote your product and services through Facebook Ads and Google Adwords. Your ads will appear on various websites and social media pages which will help you generate leads.

Be Social on Social Media

Promote your brand over all the social media platforms. Keep your pages active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Snapchat. Publish content in the form of post, images and videos. Use your creativity to make them attractive and catchy. Make sure to deliver your views across the audience.

Clear Call to Action

Landing page is a standalone page which is focused on a single objective. Sufficient information should be provided for the customers to take an informed decision. ‘Call Now’, ’Register Now’, ’Shop Now’, ‘Add to Cart’, call to actions should be very clear specifying the exact intent for a user-friendly experience.

Email marketing

As the name suggests, email marketing is broadcasting messages to a group of people who are potential or current customers. Product & service descriptions, company portfolios, informative ads can be sent. Short & precise information, responsive emails, clear contact details and call to action should be provided. Heavy images should be avoided to decrease the load time. MailChimp, Vertical Response and MailerLite are some of the effective email marketing tools you can use.

Buzzing Blogs

Blogs bring in a large audience through search engines and help in building a content rich website. Try writing blogs on the current or trending topics for attracting more audience.

Neha Jain

Co-Founder, Z Nation Lab