Despite being an entrepreneur and running successful businesses for nearly 20 years, I have never had to secure external capital before from VCs, so was completely new to the experience.
I recently secured my first ever investment round for my latest venture Nourished and managed to raise the highest amount of funds in a Seed Round by a female founder in the UK. The experience was challenging and time-consuming, particularly because I also had to run my tech start-up Nourished at the same time. However, it was also incredibly worthwhile and will enable the business to expand rapidly into new markets and benefit from the expertise and guidance of our new investors.
With Nourished, it was necessary to bring in strategic angel investors from a range of different backgrounds with the necessary knowhow to help support our ambitious growth plan for the business. Our innovative technology to create truly personalised nutrition means that we can implement our concept in almost any market around the world, and that we can continually develop and launch new product ranges in real time based on consumer feedback, new research and collaboration opportunities. Therefore, it had always been part of my strategy to complete an investment round in the early stages of the business to help fund this advantageous approach.
A lot of my focus and time at the start of the roadshow was centered around research and networking. I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredibly helpful employees, suppliers and business partners, but I certainly didn’t have a great network for raising capital when I started this process. My research ranged from finding the right people, exploring my network, presenting my pitch deck, and carrying out vetting research on potential partners. I did a huge amount of research and reading into the VC world at the start which I couldn’t really delegate as a sole founder, but that education has certainly helped me to secure such a successful round and will be instrumental in my future fundraising
Don’t underestimate how much time the process of raising investment can take and be prepared for it. For me one of the most time-consuming activities was creating the pitch deck itself which needed to include a huge amount of data and information in a concise manner to educate potential investors on our business. As we have created a world first technology and concept, there were no previous case studies or examples I could draw on which made it more challenging.
Secondly, I found that responding to investor queries consumed a lot of my time. I wanted to reply to everything as thoroughly and clearly as I could in a timely manner, but this could be tricky when pitching to investors on an international level and having to consider different time zones and commitments.
Finally, the largest challenge from a time perspective was managing and running the business alongside raising capital. As the sole founder of a start-up business I had a responsibility to instruct my teams, plan our growth and marketing strategies, optimize our operations, and seek investment simultaneously. I am lucky enough to have an incredible team who are extremely supportive, but it was difficult to launch the business and secure funds at the same time. Surround yourself with a proactive and passionate team and don’t be afraid to delegate to them; the biggest help you can be to them in return is to secure the longevity of the business.
It can be very difficult to navigate the VC and funding eco-system for anyone, but when you consider the findings from the recent Rose Review, it’s clear that there are still some additional challenges to overcome to give equal opportunities across the board.
The recent Rose Review (a study by the government into the gender gap in UK entrepreneurship) showcased the disproportionate amount of money going to male founders (and also coming from male investors). The review reports, ‘Start-up funding is the #1 barrier mentioned by women non-entrepreneurs: women launch businesses with 53% less capital on average than men, are less aware of funding options and less likely to take on debt.’
I do, however, feel that we are starting to see a shift in attitudes towards investment in female first businesses within the investment community and hope that the seed round raised by Rem3dy Group demonstrates that and acts as inspiration for others.
About the author
Melissa Snover is an award winning entrepreneur and visionary in the food tech industry. Originally from New York and having studied Business Management and Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, Melissa moved to the UK to finish her studies at Lancaster University. Shortly after this, aged 23, she co-founded a financial services company, which she then sold in 2009 so she could redirect her creative skills into confectionery. Following that, in 2010 she founded the company FTF Sweets Ltd, UK, also known as Goody Good Stuff, which is the world’s first vegan, natural and allergen-free fruit gum. Then in 2015, she partnered with the successful German Katjes family corporation, so was able to immerse herself in the world of food technology and 3D printing, which has since led her to starting her current venture, Nourished – the world’s first truly personalised nutrition product.
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