Founders seeking their first check need a fundraising sales funnel

Milana Lewis, CEO and co-founder of music tech startup Stem, started the fundraising process long before she actually asked any investors for money (dig the well before you’re thirsty — it’s the best way). She recommends that other founders do the same.

Ten years ago, Milana started working at United Talent Agency (UTA), one of the world’s leading talent agencies. When tasked with finding the best tools and technologies that UTA’s clients could use to self-distribute their work, she discovered a glaring gap.

“There were all these tools built for the distribution of content, monetization of content and audience development,” she says. “The last piece missing was the financial aspect.” The entertainment industry desperately needed a platform that would help artists manage the financial side of their business — and that’s how the idea for Stem was born.

Because UTA had its own investment branch, called UTA Ventures, Milana’s job also introduced her to some brilliant investors. Years later, when it was time to fundraise for Stem, those connections played a pretty big role.

In an episode of How I Raised It, Milana shared how Stem has landed some superstar investors and raised a little under $ 22 million.

1. Bring investors along for the ride — from the very start

Milana’s involvement with UTA Ventures exposed her to the investor experience and put her in the same room as people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Jonathon Triest from Ludlow Ventures, Anthony Saleh from Wndrco and Scooter Braun.

After meeting them the first time, she made sure to nurture those relationships, and she was “honest and vulnerable” about the fact that she wanted to be an entrepreneur one day.

“It’s amazing how much people will help and support you along in that journey,” Milana says. Investors “get excited about making early-stage investments because they want to identify that person before anyone else does.”

As her idea for Stem came together, she shared that with them, too. Over the course of a year, she provided regular updates on her vision, like how she was building out her team, and she also called them for occasional advice.

By the time she approached some of them for funding, she didn’t even need to present a full pitch. By then, they already knew enough about Stem, and about Milana as a businesswoman. Her pitch meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk — the first person to invest — ended up being just 15 minutes long.

“I brought people on my entrepreneurial journey in the beginning,” Milana says. “The biggest piece of advice I could give is to start raising a year before you start raising. Start building relationships and data points.”

2. Become best friends with systems and deadlines

For each round, Milana put together a lead list — a list of potential investors who she either met socially or through business. Each time, she wanted to have at least 100 names on this list.

Startups – TechCrunch

Can I claim back VAT when my company has no sales yet?

I run a game development company VAT registered in the UK and I have yet to release my game, and therefore have no sales, or any other cash influx into the company. I have recently bought a laptop and several other pieces of tech equipment to be used for work purposes. Can I claim back VAT on them through HMRC when I have no output VAT?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Social Media Endorsements Drive Small Business Sales (Episode 144)

Have you ever wondered if that recommendation you made on social media really helps a business out? Well, now there’s proof that indeed it does.

New data from American Express shows that on average, social media endorsements of small businesses generate about 23 percent of their revenues, or approximately $ 197 billion a year across the small business horizon. The majority of small business owners (78 percent) report that positive shout outs on social media are a significant driver of business.

Tune in to this morning’s WJR Business Beat to learn more from Jeff!

Eighty eight percent of shoppers want to be intentional about supporting local stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 42 percent of us reporting that we’ve supported a small business on social media by making a simple recommendation.”

– Jeff Sloan

Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great story to share? If so, contact us at editor@startupnation.com and we’ll feature you on an upcoming segment of the WJR Business Beat!

WJR Business Beat Transcript

Good morning, Kevin.

We are all pulling for our favorite local stores to survive this horrible crisis we’re in, and you know what? There is something you can do to help them out.

Ever wondered if that recommendation you made on social media really helps a business out? Well, now there’s proof that indeed it does.

In fact, new research proves that those online shout outs on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, for example, result in sales. And, of course, that means much needed additional cash flowing into those cash-starved businesses.

In fact, new data from American Express shows that on average, social media endorsements of small businesses generate about 23 percent of their revenues, or approximately $ 197 billion a year across the small business horizon.

Beyond data, anecdotally, as much as 78 percent of small business owners report that positive shout outs on social media are a significant driver of business for them.

You see, the impact of micro influencing, being an ambassador for a business you love has grown in importance and impact, because consumers are growing weary of big production paid commercials.

It’s now proven that influencer marketing, especially in a local community where neighbors trust their neighbors much more than they do an ad, have become more powerful in driving sales, especially in our current climate, when authenticity means much more than sizzle and flash.

The cool thing? Because we care about our local communities, we care about our local businesses. Eighty eight percent of shoppers want to be intentional about supporting local stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 42 percent of us reporting that we’ve supported a small business on social media by making a simple recommendation.

So, listen, let’s keep doing it. Let’s do whatever we can to help our local business owners get through this crisis. One simple way to do it? Take a moment to be proactive about creating a shout out for a local business you love on a social media platform.

And you know what? Just because you do, you just might see them start to thrive again on Main Street sometime next year. Now that is what I call a worthy payoff in exchange for a simple act of neighborly kindness.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

The post WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Social Media Endorsements Drive Small Business Sales (Episode 144) appeared first on StartupNation.

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5 Tips for Converting Customers to Make Black Friday Sales

Entrepreneurs have faced an unprecedented year with the pandemic causing major disruptions to the way they operate. This now means that for many smaller businesses, Black Friday (as well as Small Business Saturday) holds a heightened level of pressure as they attempt to capture the attention of consumers during a second wave of restrictions.

The competition amongst businesses for the attention of shoppers is fierce this holiday season, with industry giants such as Amazon dominating the market and making it hard for startups and small businesses to stand out.

While traffic to the top 100 shopping sites increased by 137 percent on Black Friday in 2019, figures are expected to soar in 2020 as shoppers are forced online during lockdown. This means startups must be prepared to catch customer interest quickly and have the correct tools in place to ensure they convert to a sale.

To help entrepreneurs make the most of this Black Friday traffic and ensure they are converting users to a sale, let’s take a look at the following five tips for e-commerce businesses to capitalize on the day.


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Analyze the data before decision-making

If your startup has been operating online for at least a few months, you can use Google Analytics data, to show you which of your product pages are particularly popular amongst customers. This data is extremely valuable for your Black Friday plans, since it can help you to inform both discounting and purchasing decisions.

By understanding which products your customers are most interested in, you can funnel more marketing resources into these areas to maximize sales for these particular categories.

Understand your USP and maximize it

Startups have a unique selling point (USP) with customers, which can help them stand apart from retailing giants such as Amazon. Black Friday is a great opportunity to remind your audience that you have the ability to directly serve their local needs while being better in tune with their wants than big corporations, because you have more personal contact with your audience.

With the pandemic putting many startups at risk, consumers are making shopping local a priority this holiday season, so make sure your brand is on your local community’s radar.

Providing vouchers or special Black Friday discounts to these customers can be a great way to ensure you are instilling loyalty and can help convert this audience to make a sale.


Related: Holiday Season 2020: Understanding Consumer Behavior to Inform Business Strategies

Target your marketing efforts to suit your audience

Many businesses start their marketing efforts a few days before Black Friday to drum up interest with their customer base. Although this is likely to support sales, we recommend starting your marketing campaigns at least a few weeks before the big day itself to ensure you have maximized the potential of your efforts.

Email marketing is a great way to build anticipation among your audience, with the opportunity to provide sneak peaks, discounts and limited-time offers to subscribers only. When engaging in email marketing, you must take the time to personalize your content to the customer base you are targeting, rather than sending a generic email to every customer. Using browsing and purchasing history information can be an effective way to target customers in time for Black Friday, giving you an insight into what these customers are particularly interested in from your brand.

Simplify the purchase process

If customers are having difficulty using your website (i.e. a problem adding an item to their basket, difficulty finding where to checkout or how to add a payment option), they will most likely take their business elsewhere. You must ensure you are in the best position to convert a user to a sale by having a website that is user-friendly at every touchpoint.

Having strong calls to actions on your site can also ensure users are not lost along their journey and that they can check out efficiently. Your website should also have clear contact details or a contact form so that customers can easily get in touch with any queries they may have before or on Black Friday.


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Ensure you support trusted payment methods

Customers expect to see a variety of trusted payment methods when they check out. If a customer is new to your business and your website, he or she needs to feel safe when entering their credit card details, meaning you must be equipped with the latest and most secure financial technology to reassure your customers they are dealing with a safe brand.

Having these additional measures in place will act as trust signals to customers and show that your brand can be trusted. This, in turn, will aid in converting users to make that all-important sale on Black Friday.

The post 5 Tips for Converting Customers to Make Black Friday Sales appeared first on StartupNation.

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Atlanta-based iFOLIO Modernizes Digital Sales Pitches For Startups and Sports Teams Alike – hypepotamus.com

Atlanta-based iFOLIO Modernizes Digital Sales Pitches For Startups and Sports Teams Alike  hypepotamus.com
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