We kicked off week 5 by inviting some of our life science mentors to meet us in a small, world cafe style setting at Bella Vista Social Club. It was an intimate evening that created deeper connections beyond what you see at a typical mentor mixer. It was a success and both mentors and founders were able to give and receive value to everyone there. 

Financial model strategy and cash needs were our focus this week. Grace Chui Miller, CFO of Correlation Ventures, a VC firm currently deploying their second fund of $200 million, shared a few examples of financial models and told us what VCs want to know during those first meetings. Cashburn, operating expenses, and headcount are items that VCs expect to see in your financial model. They’ll also want to hear your accomplishments to date and milestones that you plan to hit after receiving funding. On the flip side, it’s important to note that meeting with investors is not a one sided interview. Founders should be interviewing investors too. Raising capital can be analogous to dating and marriage in that you want to know who you’ll be spending your future alongside before entering a binding contract. One way to get a feel for investor/company fit is to talk to companies in the investor’s portfolio. Ask about their relationship and involvement. Find out whether or not the company is happy that they took investment from your prospective investors. If the investor doesn’t feel like a good fit, keep dating until you find a good fit for your company.

We were also so excited to have Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest call in from New York to give our founders advice about starting a business and fundraising. The key takeaways from that chat can be found on our linkedin or facebook page.

The female factor discussion centered around powers and biases.  Deconstructing the myth that CEOs have to be good at everything. And in fact, the best CEOs know their specific superpowers and find others to fill in the holes. We focused on self reflection, celebrating our accomplishments and better understanding our powers in order to build confidence. Tina Berenbaum, a thought leader in leadership development joined us to analyze each founder’s strengths and derailers.  She used the hogan assessment and Strengthsfinders as a guide to understanding how we get in our own way and what we can do about it.

Thank you to all of our mentors that shared their Monday evening with us. And a big thanks to Grace, Alexa and Tina who each offered us extraordinary insight this week! We’re so grateful for the ongoing support of our community. 

Questions you should be able to answer about your business and your product before pitching investors:

  1. What is your external narrative or company story and mission? The more you practice your story, the more confidence you will have when someone asks. Practice in front of the mirror. The more you state your story, the more natural it will sound. Since you’re constantly changing and growing, take time to update this narrative every 3 months or so.
  2. What have you accomplished while building your business thus far?
  3. What has to be done to reach your next milestone?
  4. What would you do with capital if you had it to spend tomorrow? Investors want to know that you already have a plan to spend the money. Not sure where to begin? Start by breaking it down into key hires and salaries, research and development, sales and marketing. Then go deeper and break down salaries, cost to get to prototype, cost to get to full scale production, marketing spend to acquire a customer, and branding design.
  5. Make a list of your accomplishments in your personal life and about your company. Read them out loud in front of a mirror. Repeatedly. Next time you’re asked, you’ll be able to confidently offer a humble brag and clearly articulate what’s coming next.