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10 Simple Tips For Successful Fundraising

Career

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.

Elyse Dickerson.

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.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.