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WearYouWant fund-raising story part 1: How to get one million dollars?

Martin: "I think any entrepreneur who hasn't been a little scared during the process would be lying"


Martin Toft - WearYouWant's Cofounder/Managing Director
Martin Toft – WearYouWant’s Cofounder/Managing Director

You might read my previous post about WearYouWant: Thailand is probably the country with the most interest for fashion products in Southeast Asia.  WearYouWant is a leading B2B2C fashion platform based in Thailand. Recently they closed their series A funding round with $1.5M. The round was lead by Digital Media Partners (DMP), a venture firm that specializes in emerging markets in Southeast Asia, Japanese e-marketing firm OPT SEA and IMG Investment Partners, Chalte (WearYouWant cofounder) also join the round. This news was promoted on several tech news sites including TechCrunch, e27, TechinAsia… so I don’t want to bother you any more. I thought many entrepreneurs were also curious about the behind the scene factors rather than the news itself, so I have another conversation with Martin to find out more insight about how did they get it done.

WearYouWant’s target customers

Why 1.5M? and how about the shares for VCs?

 The total amount raised relates to our forecast and what we wish to achieve within the next 12 months. However, perhaps we will be raising funds again sooner than later should we see interesting expansion opportunities. I can not disclose the amount of shares distributed to the investors.

When should we start raising for series A after seed/angel round?

 Right away, meaning you should at least start preparing your deck, initiate the first calls/meetings, do your pitching etc. Our biggest mistake was probably that we waited too long before we realized that we had to do something. That puts you in an uncomfortable situation, where you might end up not getting the best deal possible.

Our biggest mistake was probably that we waited too long before we realized that we had to do something.

How long have it taken to get the money since you’ve met the investors? And what is the most painful thing while raising the money? How to balance preparing time and keep maintaining the growth rate?

Martin: "I think any entrepreneur who hasn't been a little scared during the process would be lying"
Martin: “I think any entrepreneur who hasn’t been a little scared during the process would be lying

It has taken more than 6 months from we had the first conversations. I think that is quite usual, so in that way it was not an abnormal fundraising process we went through. Again, better to have runway for a few more months, in order not to risk becoming desperate.

The toughest part of fund raising is without a doubt that you spend a quite large proportion of your time on something else than running the company (operations).

It’s also something that takes a lot of energy on a personal level, and of course it affects you when potential investors turn down your business. I think any entrepreneur who hasn’t been a little scared during the process would be lying. On the other hand, that is also what pushes you to accomplish the mission! Balancing the time between fundraising and running operations very much comes down to how well prepared you are. As mentioned earlier, if you’re well-prepared it will not totally remove your focus from the company, however if you have your back against the wall, it should be taking 100% of your time, the alternative is no company.

So again, be prepared in time and make sure there’s runway to keep going a little longer than you expect.

Any work priority example for this period?

Since we’ve been busy closing series A a whole new mobile optimized design has been a top priority and therefore just launched. This is not only good for our end-users but also helpful for our fundraising progress as the investors see it as an effective approach to increase traction.

How many investors have you met? And what is the best approach?

I’ve met many investors. I can’t give you an exact number, and frankly speaking there is no exact number which is the right number. It all comes down to the business, the traction, the team, the founders etc, so if you haven’t secured a deal yet, well you haven’t met enough! Best approach is to use your network and the network of your seed/angel investors.

Linkedin is good for identifying potential investors, and then checking with your network if anyone can assist with an introduction.            

 How did you know potential VCs and Why DMP? How to find the right investors?

 Even I’ve met many, I haven’t met all, so it’s a tough one. Again, if time is not an issue I would check with founders from other of their portfolio companies to make sure it’s the right match. In our case DMP was our Seed investors, and they followed up on our Series A. So we knew them quite well from the past 2 years and felt very comfortable about having them as our leading investor.

Monetization is one of the three critical keys

What are the keys to persuade the investors?

I’m not sure if you can actually define 3 things as the most important in convincing investors to invest in your company. I think it very much depends on the stage you’re at (angel, seed, Series A, B etc), however one thing that everybody mentions is “TEAM”.

It is extremely important that you have the right team behind you, and that the investors can feel that.

The longer you get the more important the traction becomes, however not saying it’s not important in the beginning. Territory or SCALABILITY is another thing that needs to be obvious – can your business be expanded regionally/globally? If not, then it’s going to be a tough one. Finally MONETIZATION, or at least a very clear idea about how the monetization will come into place later on, makes it easier. I know a lot of big companies have raised millions of dollars without ever having made a single dollar, however they’ve probably had a very scalable concept and a totally awesome team 🙂

Note: I’d like to brief Martin’s thought into a short motto “Team can scale up money”

Besides “Team can scale up money”, how about other details: connections, slides, clothes you’ve worn in the pitch meeting…?

There’s a lot of other factors which has more or less importance in the whole fundraising process. Of course a well made deck is the key to calls/meetings. Connections are definitely also something of importance, maybe even more important than the deck. Perhaps not in terms of closing the deal, but at least in getting the attention. Marc Zuckerberg was wearing a pyjamas so I guess that tells there’s no dress code:) That being said, in the case of WearYouWant, I believe that a sense of understanding and passion for fashion is a good thing.

I mean after all, you have to be passionate about your startup, and investors will most likely note that.

I think bootstrapping is not too bad until you find someone that makes a fit. Again, that will also give you the opportunity to show some sort of traction before actively raising funds. I can not pinpoint one single thing that entrepreneurs should be particular worried about when choosing investors, but as mentioned earlier, a background check with other of their portfolio companies, should definitely be made.

Also, important to note what kind of expectations the investors have in terms of getting their money back, make sure that is aligned more or less with your own expectations and visions for your company.

There are three VCs in the round, how can they invest together? Any insight while working with several VCs at the same time as working with one VC is already touch enough?

The process of finding and getting new investors onboard has been coordinated with our Seed investors. Naturally, we did the initial meetings ourselves, but as things progressed all parts got involved.
So far we have not experienced any difficulties working with 3 different investors. However, in order to avoid potential confrontations and misunderstandings it is recommendable that everybody is on the same page in terms of the short and long term vision for the company.

Any funny or memorial thing has occurred while you were raising fund?

Hahaha, not sure any super funny things happening during that process, but I do remember that we kicked off several large partnerships at the same time as raising funds. Once things get tough the tough gets going, isn’t that what they say? 🙂

Thanks for your insightful sharing!

Part 2: WearYouWant fund-raising story: How to spend one million dollars?