Nowadays, when you've got an idea for a product or a startup, but find yourself with zero dollars to your name, it's not entirely impossible to get your venture off the ground. Nothing is impossible in the land of opportunity – go for the American Dream, #amirite? Outside of traditional venture funding and angel funding, there are other options that an entrepreneur can pursue in order to help them turn their ideas into reality.
Despite these opportunities, however, you need to keep in mind that the goal of raising money is to support your passion: to get your hard work into the hands of users or consumers. Don't jump into fundraising with the goal of raising money to pay yourself a salary.
This afternoon at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, we held a panel called “Wild New World of Funding,” which explored the different ways through which people can pursue funding for their intended ventures. The panelists on stage came from different backgrounds – from a venture firm to a startup competition organization – including Michael Hughes of OneVest, Akhil Nigam of MassChallenge, Gabriella Draney of Tech Wildcatters, and Eric Olson of Origin Ventures. The engaging discourse was led by Susan Cooney, she herself familiar with alternative sources of funding, having founded the philanthropic crowdfunding platform Givelocity.
“If you're sitting in your BMW crying why your company can't raise funding, I don't feel sorry for you,” said Draney. “Don't raise money because you need to pay yourself a salary.”
While there are more options out there for raising money for a startup, it's difficult to find and land the right type of funding that works to your goals. And when it comes to those goals, the primary should not be merely to give yourself a salary. When you do this, you just become another one of those startups that are blatantly desperate for money because it's a thing that startups are supposed to worry about or #whatever. According to many of the panelists, the easiest way to get the right kind of money to come to you is simply to believe in your vision and let people know that your one goal is to continue going after your dream (mainly: your company and your product).
“Your job as a company when you're just getting started is not to raise money; your job is to get customers and to get revenue,” said Hughes. “The right money is what you want to find, and those with the right kind of money will find you if you just keep on doing what you're doing…to show people you're pursuing your passion.”
And, according to Olson, there's a flaw in thinking that your startup is ready for venture funding. Trying to attract venture capital shouldn't be a main goal for startups because the timing schedule simply doesn't work for many companies.
“By nature, there are many businesses that will become successful…and change the world that won't fit the timing model of VCs,” said Olson. “If you're thinking of working with a venture firm, you have to come to terms that you need to work on their timeline – luckily there are other choices for you.”
On October 6-7, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.