(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Seed rounds aren’t only about the cash.
Money may be the desired end result of an initial outside investment round, but the process of raising capital is ultimately about setting a course for the company, Yet Analytics cofounders Shelly Blake-Plock and Margaret Roth told a group of entrepreneurs and community members at Startup Soiree on Wednesday night. Blake-Plock described the initial investment round as a mortgage on the company’s future.
“When we started up this company, we didn’t start it for the purpose of getting a mortgage, we started it for the purpose of building a home,” he said.
The event, held at the Arch Social Club at Penn and North, was a chance for entrepreneurs to meet up in West Baltimore following the recent launch of Innovation Village.
In a club where Billie Holiday once performed, Roth and Blake-Plock shared some of the insights they gained during the big-data interoperability company’s $1.3 million raise. The oversubscribed round, led by Panther Angels, closed in November.
The process of assembling a team to carry out the vision and winning over investors outside of friends and family forces you to hone in on how to present the company to the world, the cofounders said. For the startup, which is developing a data analytics platform for training from a Defense Department API, honing in on a clear description of the company’s aim was key.
“As soon as you get very authentic about what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish, people start saying yes,” Roth said.
They laid out a few parts of the process for other entrepreneurs in the room:
- Building a startup is an up-and-down ride. Building a team that can roll with the lows just as well as the highs is a key part of the raising a seed round. And once the pitching starts, investors are a part of that support network that must be strong, Roth said.
- Within the process of building a business, look at the tools that are available in the community. “It’s about finding the resources that can help you and not being afraid to ask for help,” Blake-Plock said.
- Ultimately, the pitch is where you convince people that your idea is worth spending money on. While giving a brief overview of the company to investors who may be new to the idea may seem to lend itself to a formulaic pitch, Blake-Plock says it’s important to remember that you’re trying to stand out. “I couldn’t do it like anyone else. I had to do it like me,” he said. Blake-Plock’s passionate pitch about building a big company in Baltimore propelled Yet Analytics to a win at Venture Pitch Day at Beta City.
The Pitch Deck
- Keep the slides concise, Roth said. Like with the pitch itself, look for ways to stand out, and convey what the company does to a group who may have never heard it before. “What it really came to was being completely honest with who we are, and not trying to fit the mold of what other people say your deck is supposed to look like,” she said.