For a long time now I’ve been meaning to write a post on women and gender issues, with the exact angle TBD – women in entrepreneurship, women in angel investing, women in tech, and women in business all seemed relevant topics. Those who know me are aware of my obsession with the topic after years of reflection magnified by two pregnancies and a maternity leave consumed with reading every book on career and motherhood I could find. From The Feminine Mystique through the Feminine Mistake, I have read them all. And yet, I’m continuously hit by daily insights in my professional setting. Read more
GUST CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2012
In honor of International Women’s Day, Gust is thrilled to announce our partnership with Astia in launching the International Women’s Day Scholarship 2012. The scholarship aims to highlight the extraordinary women leaders of high-potential startups by awarding entrance into Astia’s Global Entrepreneur Program.
The winning startups will receive a full scholarship to Astia’s renowned Entrepreneur Program, a week-long event providing intensive training in areas such as capital fundraising, business leadership, and networking opportunities with prominent angel and venture capital investors.
Astia’s Entrepreneur Program includes candid discussions led by active investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. The program is followed by a two-month advisory period during which companies are paired with a team of advisors, including one investor, one serial entrepreneur, and at a minimum, two other start-up experts. Additionally, select start-ups will receive:
- Introductions to leading VCs and angel investors
- Market intelligence provided by investor-led panels and workshops
- Presentation skills coaching by a leading expert
- Increased business acumen and executive leadership skills
- Expert advice from VCs, angels and successful entrepreneurs
The scholarship is targeted towards women-led startups, and company applicants must have at least one woman in a leadership role (at C level).
A panel of leading industry women business executives and investors will conduct an initial screening for the top ten companies. Through Astia’s selection committee, either in-person or online, a screening will determine the final winners and award entrance into Astia’s Global Entrepreneur Program.
To apply, create and submit your company profile via the Gust platform. There is no fee to apply. As part of your application, you will create your startup profile on Gust, which you can return to in the future to manage all of your investor relations needs. All applicants that publish their startup profiles will be automatically added to the International Women’s Day Scholarship collection.
The deadline to submit your completed application is April 22, 2012 at 11:59pm EDT.
Gust provides the global platform for the sourcing and management of early-stage investments. Gust enables skilled entrepreneurs to collaborate with the smartest investors by virtually supporting all aspects of the investment relationship, from initial pitch to successful exit. Gust is endorsed by the world’s leading business angel and venture capital associations, and powers over 750 investment organizations in 65 countries. More than 125,000 start-ups have already used the platform to connect and collaborate with over 35,000 individual accredited investors.
Astia is a unique, global not-for-profit built on a community of men and women with a distinct focus and mission: to propel women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth.
Gust is delighted to announce a partnership with NASVF and NCET2 for the online certificate course “How Do Entrepreneurs Raise Angel and Seed Funding”. The course is an insider view to the early stage fund raising process. You’ll learn how angels and early-stage investors identify promising startups, what needs to be in the business plan, how to build effective leadership teams, how to do a deal and what terms to avoid, and what to do after you get funded. This course is for researchers, entrepreneurs, service providers, and tech transfer people who are involved in raising funding for startup businesses.
David S. Rose will be the lead presenter for “What does an entrepreneur need to do to write a business plan” on Tuesday, March 27 and co-instructing with Ashley J. Stevens for the class “How does an entrepreneur negotiate the deal” on Tuesday, April 10. The classes will provide entrepreneurs with the essential components to acquire an angel investment, presented by The Pitch Coach. Entrepreneurs will learn how to deliver a powerful elevator pitch, leverage capital, and get revenue as quickly as possible.
We’re thrilled to be co-hosting Made in NY: Austin with NY Tech Meetup at South by Southwest! To get you as pumped as we are, we will be hosting a pre-party party:
Welcome to Gust! This guide will help you get your funding search off the ground. It includes tips on what to include in your startup profile, how to find investors that are appropriate for your venture, and how to manage your relationships throughout the funding process.
- Before you begin
- Completing your profile
- Expert tips
- Finding the right investor
- Managing the relationship
If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please visit Gust’s Feedback & Support page. You can also learn more about startup funding by following the Gust blog, which brings together the latest tips from some of the angel world’s most respected experts.
Before you begin:
If you are new to the fundraising process, a good place to start is The Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels by Bill Payne, the world’s leading trainer of angel investors. Bill also offers extensive insights in his Gust blog contributions.
We encourage you to utilize both resources to further your understanding of the types of things angels and venture capitalists look for when reviewing new investment opportunities. These include a solid management team, a large and growing market, a clear business plan, a potential for significant economic returns, and a viable exit strategy.
It is important to keep in mind that investors do not fund brilliant ideas alone; rather, they look for good ideas backed by solid execution and experience. If your startup is not yet at a point where you can show at least some basic traction — through sales, customers, or other validators — it may be prudent to consider alternative forms of funding first. Other options include business plan competitions, incubators, or accelerators, many of which you can also find on Gust.
Completing your profile:
Completing your startup profile is the first thing you should do upon creating a Gust account. If you have already started, there are several things you can do to make your profile more attractive to investors.
If you have not yet started, make sure to complete your profile now! After, you will have the option to make your public profile visible on a wide range of public places, directories, and search results.
You will also find yourself eligible for a variety of special opportunities. There are now over 1,000 venture funds, angel organizations, business plan competitions, entrepreneurship support programs, media groups, and other carefully vetted participants who regularly use Gust searches to find companies to write about, invite to exclusive programs or proactively reach out to. If your public profile isn’t complete, you will unknowingly be excluded from these opportunities.
Note that your public profile provides a “Request Access” button, which is used by accredited investors to express their interest in your company. You may then decide to share additional information with that investor by authorizing him or her to view your startup profile complete with sensitive information that is not available to the public. This more detailed overview includes all of the standard information that investors need to see in order to move the process forward.
While you will want to meet, speak with, and exchange emails with potential investors outside of Gust, keep in mind that it is critical that the first contact with you be both directly through Gust and verified on your dashboard. This will allow you to verify the legitimacy of all incoming requests and ensure that your information remains secure in our system.
Once you finish the public profile, you can proceed to make your company stand out. Here are some recommendations gleaned from the sites of companies that went on to successfully find funding :
1. Show your best public face
Instead of using the default background in your public profile, choose a relevant one from the Gust library, or even better, create and upload your own customized image. This does not have to be fancy, but it should be clean, professional, and relevant to your startup.
2. Don’t ignore the details
This includes uploading your company’s logo, which will be used in many places throughout the investment process. Also, don’t forget to enter your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook handles, write concise biographies for each of your team members, and include your summary financials.
It is impossible to over-share on Gust. We include only information that investors require to make decisions, in many cases limiting the text entrepreneurs can provide. These determinations were reached after years of input from Angels and VCs clarifying what they want to see.
3. If you’re unsure of what to enter, ask
Don’t provide a number or answer a question if you are unsure of what it means. It never hurts to check with an advisor. Because many investors use automatic filters for preliminary screening, a simple data entry mistake may result in being inadvertently eliminated from consideration by an investment organization, which would otherwise have been a good match!
4. The presentation is crucial
The presentation is the heart of the pitch. Typically, it is viewed after investors have skimmed over your company essentials. Regardless, they will unquestionably turn to the presentation for more information in an easy-to-digest format. You have three options here:
- You can upload your slide deck (PowerPoint or PDFs), allowing investors to proceed through the slides at their own pace.
- Alternatively, you can upload a video. These are generally 5-15 minute clips of founders going through their pitch in front of a group. Be sure that the video shows both you and the slides clearly, and is correctly exposed and professionally filmed. You do not want to come across as amateur.
- The third possibility is unique to Gust. We allow you to upload your slide deck, then run it alongside a webcam presentation you record. You can use the Gust platform to synchronize the two, while advancing the slides and zooming back and forth between your video and slides — all without leaving the site.
5. Include supporting documents
In the Documents area, you can upload whatever documents you have that provide support for your proposition. Some investors might want to read everything, while others will cherry pick, but this is where you can put your business plan, sales presentations, marketing brochures, detailed financials, references, and more.
6. Proofread, proofread, proofread
Spelling and grammatical errors can cause miscommunication, and at worst, they can turn off an investor from an otherwise sound proposal. Make sure you proofread everything. If possible, have someone else proof it as well.
Finding the right investor:
Once you have completed both your public and private startup profiles, you have two potential outlets to find investors. We suggest you utilize both. First, reach out directly to any angel investor or potential angel you may already know.
This will lead you to your dashboard. On your dashboard under Share and Manage, use the “Share” button to begin the process of reaching out to a potential investor.
You will then be prompted to fill in the name and email address of the potential investor, and write a custom cover letter.
The email invitation — along with a standard one-page summary of the material you have entered — will be sent to the investor, who will automatically be granted access to view your full private site.
The other way to interact with investors is by searching for an investment organization using the Investor Search Tool on Gust. Our directory includes professional angel groups, venture funds, business plan competitions, accelerators and entrepreneurship support programs.
You can refine your search by name, location, association, industry and type of investor, and then sort them alphabetically or by distance.
Once you find a group or fund that seems like it might be a good match, you can dive in for a deeper look at their investment profile.
This includes information about their investment philosophy, the types of companies they are looking to invest in, and a list of their existing portfolio companies. This section will also show, if they choose to reveal it, detailed information on their metrics, including how many applications they’ve received, how long it typically takes them to review your materials, etc.
Also, if you’re logged in to LinkedIn, the group profile will automatically show you the names of all the members to whom you can be introduced by someone you know. This sort of warm introduction is always the best way to start the process, if possible.
The key benefit of your Gust startup profile is that it will serve as a universal application for any organization also on the Gust platform. Your startup profile is accepted by over 1,000 angel groups, accelerators, venture funds, and business plan competitions on Gust. Remember, you are the one who decides which investors see what information.
Once you find one or more groups or funds with whom you’d like to share your materials, you can simply click on the “Share now” button, and the system will check your Gust profile to make sure it includes all of the information this particular investment organization requires. Should you meet these requirements, you will then be prompted to submit an application.
In some cases, it will also immediately check the basic criteria that the group or fund has set for new investments. If your venture is not a good match for that particular investor, you will know immediately, and be encouraged to search for a more appropriate funding source.
Managing the relationship:
As soon as you have given a potential funding source access to your materials — whether by inviting an individual investor to view your site, or by sharing your site with an angel group or venture fund — an entry for that investor is automatically placed on your dashboard. This allows you to see at a glance all the investors with whom you are dealing at any point in time.
To stay on top of your progress with each investor or group, Gust provides a detailed view of that specific relationship. This view shows which pages on your site have been viewed, which investors in the group have expressed an interest, and what actions have been taken by the group on your application. Note that sharing this level of detail is optional for the investor, and some groups will elect not to provide you with visibility of private data.
From the moment you engage with an investor, it is important to communicate early and often. Keep them up to date while circling your round, thank them as soon as it closes, and provide all of your investors with at least quarterly reports on how the company is doing.
Lastly, remember to check back often to your Gust dashboard, where you will:
- Find all of your active and paused applications
- See which investors have exhibited interest in your company
- Grant or decline access requests to your confidential information
- Share your materials with additional potential investors
Gust is increasingly becoming the standard platform for both sides of early stage investment relationships. Over 180,000 startups have used Gust’s tools to connect with investors, in large part because nearly 40,000 accredited angel investors and over 1,000 investment organizations use Gust from the other side as their platform for managing their investment opportunities.
Congratulations again on taking a major step along the path to raising funding from accredited investors. Remember, if you have a question about something… ask!
Today’s unveiling of Gust, the global infrastructure for early stage entrepreneurial financing, is a milestone that has been seven years in the making. When we originally conceived of a single platform tying together the world’s entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and supporting organizations, it quickly became apparent that the biggest challenge had nothing to do with technology. Instead it was the proverbial ‘chicken and egg’ question that bedevils all two-sided market place ventures. Read more