Photo credit: Georgia Halston
From helpful and timely advice on conducting a fundraise during a global pandemic to astute observations for keeping a remote team together and pulling in the same direction, last week’s #FemaleTechFounder Night was a belter!
It kicked off with a Q&A panel discussion on strategies for levelling up on investor readiness with Chloe Barrett (@1_chloebarrett), Founder & CEO, Immersify Education and Myrto Lalacos, Investment Executive, Praetura Ventures.
Chloe is no stranger to the Female Tech Founder network having spoken at the first event in February 2019. Presenting then as a solo non-technical founder, she has since gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for her edtech startup Immersify Education and is successfully building a growing team.
She shared how striking a balance with coming up with a valuation for the company (“stick to yours and get it sense-checked”) and working backwards from that gave the confidence to have a plan to scale long term.
After a fascinating introduction with some stark financials on the fundraising landscape in the UK’s North West post-Covid (fewer funding rounds taking place), and following the discussions around debt financing surfaced by the results of this pre-event poll (via Assenty), Myrto advised that while debt financing has its appeal it’s harder to raise debt the ‘earlier stage’ you are as a startup.
“Investors are investing in growth, in startups hiring more people, closing more sales etc and in reality paying debt doesn’t help a company grow so if you do raise finance via debt, make sure it’s 5%, or at the most 10% of the total amount raised, to minimise downside for investors”, she added.
She also provided a timely word of advice on fundraising for female founders. Many don’t realise the growth potential offered by fundraising – women founders are often more risk averse, preferring to bootstrap the company for as long as possible. By fundraising and raising investment early, they can maintain first mover advantage, however.
The results of this pre-event poll (via Assenty) on founders needing support around offering equity was fascinating, particularly as Myrto and Chloe went on to discuss the topic of bringing on co-founders.
Chloe: it really is about doing your own due diligence and not allowing yourself to give stuff away before proving the commitment of the potential co-founder.
Myrto: from an investor’s perspective, better you come alone than without the rapport expected of a co-founding ‘team’. Questions would be raised about this early on, if you did.
I should have mentioned that the Q&A kicked off after we presented results of the pre-event polls we had been running on Assenty weeks before the event(!)
The company, founded by two teachers, takes strategies that speech language therapists use during a class and turns them into digital resources.
In their words, this is what they do: ‘Inclusive digital learning resources created by Teachers and Speech and Language Therapists to build vocabulary.’
They focus on improving the vocabulary needed in early years, something that is much needed as evidenced by this startling stat:
50% of the children in year 1 don’t have the vocabulary (or words) needed to take part in primary education.Caroline Schaal, Co-founder, Lift Lessons
Caroline shared the journey of the company. Lift Lessons was started after entering a pitch competition at Leeds Digital Festival 2019 and formally created after an impact study at UCL showed that students made progress using the resources they created.
Now Lift Lessons have two online products available and users in 33 countries, and this despite facing a difficult lockdown with members of the founding team spending weeks in hospital.
A great communicator, Caroline’s takeaways for herself were helpful to us all: continue to build resilience, develop public facing communications and remember values, purpose and goals.
Her opener set things up quite nicely: ”I’m a challenge junkie, I do love that uphill battle in life.”
Steph spoke candidly about the “squishy bits in the system”. By this she meant the developers who make a company capable of innovation despite not being “consistent”.
Her tips for supporting the squishy bits was to provide mentorship (offer the person advice), coaching (help the person identify their actions), sponsorship (helping increase the visibility of the person and their ability to move to the next stage) and training (learn one, teach one).
“When hiring for my company I look for people who can do these things.”
She provided some excellent advice on how to set growth plans in place if you intend to grow a 3-4 person startup to a company employing 200 people.
“Start by asking, what do the best startups look like? Then think, how are you going to grow your people?
We are enabling people to be able to achieve their goals – it’s always a people problem.”
And indeed it is!
Steph’s talk was quite in-depth and she kindly provided her slides after the event (download Steph’s slides).
It’s a wrap for this brief-ish event writeup! The session was recorded so look out for announcements on social media for the Female Tech Founder podcast where you can listen to the full event. We are @TechFemale on Twitter, follow us!
Here is some great feedback about the event on Twitter:
When’s the next Female Tech Founder Night?
We’re thrilled to announce that the next event is on Wednesday 21 October, 4-6pm. Register to attend October’s Female Tech Founder Night.
Fancy some networking before then?
Don’t forget to join us for our monthly networking event at the Female Tech Founder Coffee Hour on Wednesday 14 October, 11am-12pm. Register to attend October’s Female Tech Founder Coffee Hour.
And, if you’d like some pre-event polls with your event, we can help! Contact us for a free trial of the Assenty platform or email freetrial <at> assenty.com
ICYMI: Fund Her North Launch
We are supporting the incredible initiative that is Fund Her North as it launches on 14 October.
Fund Her North is an influential collective of women in investment supporting women entrepreneurs in the North to succeed. With a total investment capacity of over £450 million, it is a unique community of vocal, influential women investors and successful, inspirational entrepreneurs, united to tackle the many barriers facing women accessing investment.
Sign up to attend the launch at 12:30pm on Wednesday 14 October.
To find out what our community of women entrepreneurs need, we are helping Fund Her North by running some pre-event polls ahead of the event.
We need your help though!
Please take a minute to vote in the polls below. No registration required. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights. It is really valued!
What’s the difference between the different funds? I don’t know my angels from my VCs. Vote
Most angel investors offer seed funding only… Vote
Regarding raising investment funding, I know who to approach but… Vote
I don’t know how much to ask for when raising funding. Vote
I need the most support with (you can only pick one): Vote
I’d like to raise funding, I’m currently… Vote
I have been through the fundraising process and would like to… Vote
When approaching a fundraise I need the most support with (you can only pick one): Vote
I would like to be connected with potential NED / board advisors to support me as I grow: Vote
I am revenue generating, pre-profit and still defining my market – who should I approach? (You can only pick one): Vote
I am revenue generating about to breakeven with established routes to market – who should I approach for funding? (You can only pick one): Vote
I am profitable with an established trading model and looking to restructure my shareholder base – who should I approach for funding? Vote
To identify and access potential investors, I would (you can only pick one): Vote
I have built a concept and started to generate some revenues – which type of investor could I approach? Vote