Twenty-one female founders nestled into a cosy and intimate setting at Trunk restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD for a 3 course dinner. The Franklins dinners are MAP’s Female Founders’ Leadership Series. They provide an invite-only opportunity to connect like-minded female founders and to engage in a frank and insightful conversation about a particular topic that is relevant to founders and startups.
At The Franklins dinner on November 13th, co-hosted by MAP and One Roof, the issue in focus was capital raising. Each woman in the room had either been through the process (whether successfully or unsuccessfully), is currently raising funds, or is thinking about it in the near future.
We heard from two guest speakers.
Kate Morris, Founder and CEO of Adore Beauty, started Australia’s first beauty e-commerce site in 1999 from a garage in Melbourne at the age of 21. Starting with just $12,000 and two little known cosmetic companies on board, Adore Beauty has since grown to more than 160 brands, 12,000 products, and hundreds of thousands of customers.
Kerri Lee Sinclair is a successful founder many times over. Having sold her startup to Microsoft in 2007, Kerri Lee now works as the Chief Investment Office: Technology and Innovation for the Kin Group family office. Kerri Lee is a Founding Member of Springboard Enterprises Australia, a non-for-profit that runs an accelerator program focused on accelerating high growth women-led tech companies. Kerri Lee has a strong passion for supporting female founders and is a mentor and advisor to many Australian startups.
With ‘Chatham House Rules’ in place, we were able to have a very honest conversation which took many different twists and turns. While the rules dictate we cannot share the exact content discussed (#topsecret), we have shared some of our key take-aways in the video and post below:
- It always takes longer than expected. Capital raising is a long, slow process, (often longer than 6 months), and will undoubtedly take you away from the core of your business. You need to be prepared for this kind of distraction.
- Planning, preparation and strategy are paramount. So many people go into the process with their eyes closed. it’s imperative to know why you want investment and who your ideal investors are. There is no value in pitching to everyone and anyone you meet. Men have pitched to Scale Investors even though Scale is an angel investor network that invests in women-led businesses! Learn from these mistakes. Know who you are pitching to – and why.
- Do you get along with your potential investor to the point that you can enjoy going for a drink with them? Does your potential investor truly understand the industry and market you are in? What does the potential investor bring to the table beyond $$? These are important questions to ask.
- Know what type of investor and opportunity suits you. We delved into the different types of investors and investment opportunities – comparing venture capitalists to family offices and corporate funding. There were lots of different opinions and experiences to share on this topic. Do your homework.
- Do you want someone to lead the round? We discussed the benefits of having an investor lead the round, but we also recognised the challenges, particularly in Australia, of finding that lead investor.
- Know who has your back. A strong supporter that is, literally someone sitting by your side in the negotiations, seemed to be a great tip from those who had been through the process. Kate Morris had her lawyer at every single negotiation with her and she found this invaluable. Who can support you (particularly if you are a solo founder)? A board of advisors can be really helpful in this process.
There is no doubt the process of raising capital is challenging for everyone, but there are sometimes added challenges faced by female founders.
We have no doubt that each and every woman in the room at The Franklins dinner is paving the way to make it easier for other women starting and growing businesses in Australia. There was such a buzz in the room, many important connections were made, and at the end of the night no-one wanted to leave. A clear sign of the success of the night!
Contributing content from this post was created by Sheree Rubinstein, CEO and Founder of One Roof Melbourne. Learn more about One Roof and see the original version of the post on the One Roof blog here.