CEO and Co-Founder of Eosera Inc., Elyse Dickerson, started her own business because she wanted to use business as a force for good in the world.
After spending almost 18 years in corporate America, Dickerson realized that corporations did not value the people whose lives they were supposed to be improving.
Fort Worth-based Eosera Inc., a majority woman-owned biotechnology company, is committed to developing products that address underserved medical needs.
Photo: Good Crowd
Dickerson said preparation was the key to making their mission of healing humans successful.
“We spent the first year with our own money,” Dickerson said. “We also prepared for six or seven months before even asking for money. A lot of people make the mistake of “winging it” but we wanted to be prepared.”
After Eosera won $50,000 in a business pitch competition hosted by the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (the DEC) and Comerica Bank, Dickerson’s company received press and attention from potential investors.
“This was my first time fundraising and I was terrified to ask for money,” she said. “I experienced investors trying to change the terms with me… I experienced that ‘gut’ feeling of something being off with an offer – all of these ten tips are based on my personal experience.”
The two-year-old company raised $1.2 million in three months.
Here are Elyse’s ten tips to successful fundraising:
1. Read. A lot.
Educate yourself on the angel investment world. Read books, take classes, and meet with people in the industry whether it is venture finance or starting a business. In a nutshell, you need to be smarter than your investors so that you can feel confident in your deals.
2. Bootstrap your business
The more business milestones that you can hit on your own dime, the higher the valuation you can place on your company when it’s time to raise capital. Investors want to see that you have skin in the game.
3. Set your terms and do not deviate from your plan
Angel networks and investors will try their best to get the upper hand in a deal. It is your responsibility as the founder to be in control of your company and negotiations. If an investor really believes in you and your company, they will invest on your terms.
4. Be Passionate
If you don’t believe in your idea, no one else will. The investors must feel your passion and believe that you have what it takes to pull off the plan.
Joe Griffin, Eosera’s CSO and Co-Founder said Dickerson’s confidence and passion were obvious during her pitch.
“You could see the passion in her pitch and her audience could too,” Griffin said. “I think that is why we were so successful. We truly believe in our cause.”
5. Remember that you are bringing value
Too many founders feel guilty asking for money. Remember that you are bringing a valuable opportunity to the potential investor.
When I first started, I felt like I was begging for money or looking for handouts. But eventually I had to reframe my mindset to realize that I was the one bringing potential investors a valuable opportunity to make money.
I think as women, we are afraid to ask for money and we are just bad at closing a deal and asking for that investment. But we need to change our mindset to empower ourselves to realize that we are worth the risk and our ideas are valuable.
6. SELL, SELL, SELL
I quickly learned that if you don’t ask, they won’t offer- even after hearing your pitch. But the second you ask, people are more open the idea. You have to be confident about what you want.
Your full time job is fundraising. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be booked with potential investors or connectors. Give your pitch to everyone and ALWAYS close by asking for an investment.
7. Practice your pitch
OVER and OVER and OVER again. You have 30 to 60 seconds to grab someone’s attention, so make your introduction is dramatic. You will most likely have only five to six minutes to pitch your full idea, so make sure your presentation tells a story that the investors can relate to. Also make sure you are fully prepared. You never know what a potential investor will ask.
8. Find a lead investor that you trust
The first investor is the most important. The lead investor acts as a beacon for other investors. If the lead investor is accomplished and has a vast network, other investors will follow.
9. Don’t hurt the ones you love
Friends and family money should be cash that they will never miss. You don’t want someone taking out their retirement or a second mortgage to support your dream. You need to be able to sleep at night if you can never repay them. If friends and family want to invest, be straightforward and tell them ‘don’t invest if you can’t afford to lose it.
10. There is good money and bad money
Steer clear of any investor (or investor group) that gives you a bad “gut” feeling. Don’t be afraid to turn money down if the investor wants to change the terms, seems over bearing, or wants to take control. Remember, that once you take an investors money, you and your business are married to them.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.