Raising capital not for amateurs says Dick Brown

[Dick Brown, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Contributor]

Contributing Editor, Edward Lestrade, introduces Dick Brown: If you are an entrepreneur looking to raise money for your project, listening to what Dick Brown has to say about raising capital is a must if you want to get anywhere.

With a solid track record of success in sales and marketing management for entrepreneurial ventures in high-tech industries, Dick has a wealth of experience that is hard to beat, particularly as he has been successful in raising millions of dollars for project owners in his career.

Dick is currently the President of American World, Inc., a foremost US entrepreneurial ‘think tank’ and consultancy which he founded back in 1990. His past appointments has seen him as: Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, ScanCenters of America – 1994 to 1996; Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, Trident Systems – 1988/89; Director, North American Sales & Marketing, Genoa Systems – 1987/88; President, Minuteman Information Systems – 1985/87; President, DB Ventures; President, the Computer Store;  Marketing Manager, Digital Equipment; Executive VP, Control Logic;  Director of Dealer Sales, Data General – 1983/85.

Few entrepreneurs understand or appreciate that raising money is very hard. Basically it’s a tough, frustrating, complicated marketing and sales task. The neophytes ignore that their venture is fighting with those of dozens (if not hundreds) of other entrepreneurs – all seeking the same available capital and usually from the same sources. Rarely do they understand that they must stand apart from all their competitors.  Not one in ten bothers to learn anything about “adventure capital”; the multiple sources thereof; nor how this array of international funding sources actually functions. They blindly accept the word of a few compatriots that Venture Capital companies are the correct choice and that these firms are chomping at the bit just to find “new blood” and turn them into the latest Bill Gates or Steve Jobs … just as they’ve often read in Time, the WSJ or the San Jose Mercury. It seems for them, fortune and fame are “just a moment away”.

The most common (and fatal) blunder the money seekers make is believing it’s going to be easy and they can get instant funding of million for their business … and, without spending any of their own money.

Reality however, shows that the search for funding consumes six to twelve months and is a full-time job. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or the seasoned CEO of an existing company, a total commitment is required along with enough money for you to last out for all that time. Expenses also must be paid. Whilst expenses relating to the actual money-capturing will vary, what is certain and continuous will be travel, legal and accounting expenses. If they’re wise, entrepreneurs will seek out knowledgeable consultants that are “connected” to the money moguls and understand the language and rules of the game. None of these are cheap and contrary to the “common knowledge” of the entrepreneur’s friends and relatives, none will work for stock and other ‘cuts’ of the action that is still yet to be realized. Cash is king in practically all cases. I’ve always been astounded by entrepreneurs that are trying to raise funds who don’t even consider reality and profess to have no funds of their own to spend – just good resumes and ideas.

Perhaps my classic case is an entrepreneur that contacted me wanting to raise $50,000,000 to build a particular type of hotel and resort. I had no interest in his venture but it was very clear that he needed a great deal of help. I suggested he read a book I’d written about raising money to broaden his knowledge. It sold for $9.95. He said he couldn’t afford it!! Most entrepreneurs also don’t realize that VC’s effectively belong to a “club” whose members are other VC’s and have a supporting array of people that provide them services. If you’re an entrepreneur seeking funding and an “outsider”, achieving a membership of this club (and subsequently funding) is nearly impossible. However to conquer this daunting task, the careful and proper recruitment of an existing club member, a few expensive lunches followed by selective introductions can far more easily achieve this goal.

More marketing considerations – entrepreneurs usually neglect any consideration that once they release their ES or BP they’ll live or die according to how well these represent their business or venture and, most important, differentiate it from all the garbage that professionals receive every day. My experience is that the average ES or BP is full of mistakes. I still marvel that the most common one is that the entrepreneur soliciting funding neglects to tell the prospective investor is how much money the investor might make. The average BP is replete with obscure techno-talk and arcane references, but never addresses the sole motive of any investor … making money.

Consistently I urge entrepreneurs to have their finished ES and Business Plan reviewed by an experienced, successful entrepreneur – or better still, a VC or Merchant Banker – folks that are daily involved in the “money business” and funding real deals. You’d be amazed how different one of these “players” will gauge the emphasis of what you’ve written.

Further, your ES and BP must be clear, readable, documents that succinctly describe your venture. They should have color, pictures, graphs, illustrations and coherent financial projections. With the most casual glance, these convey that you’re a top-drawer professional and that the recipient is missing a major opportunity if they remain unread – most important, they tell your potential investor how much money they can make and shows how you’ll achieve that ROI for them.

Given the above, as an entrepreneur raising funds now, all you have to do first of all, is to warn your immediate family that they will be seeing less of you for a while. Then get wide distribution of your story to as many qualified investors as possible.  Furthermore, you will need to recruit members of your management team to help you and hone up every sales skill you’ve ever learned. Do practice your presentation so that you can say it (convincingly) even in your sleep and develop the skin of an alligator against rejection. Remember to say: “If you’re not interested do you know someone that would be?”. Look to see who benefits for every pitch you get and keep a sense of humor and balance. And finally, ‘win’ –  there are not many things that are  better than victory.

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Dick’s consulting company is American World (AW) and he can be contacted by email, or by phone: dick@amerwld.com;  843-237-9802.  American World provides consulting for experienced entrepreneurs and has introduced a package called ‘ “The Entrepreneurs’ Edge” which is a comprehensive guide for project owners trying to raise money for their projects. Another book by Dick we recommend is: ” How to Raise Money, Insider Edition” which is on sale at American World for less than $10. It is available as a downloadable file.

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One Comment to “Raising capital not for amateurs says Dick Brown”

  1. [moderated]

    Dick,
    Thanks for the excellent article and please accept our cordial invitation to our EVECAIN Mixer at Empire Room in NYC, June 14. Please feel free to pass the link on to your colleagues and collaborators in the investor/entrepreneur community.
    Best,
    JM de Jesus,MBA
    President
    Quadrant Two PR

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