There are several ways that you can fund your next greatest idea. First, there’s the age-old strategy of moving slowly and steadily until you can secure early revenue. However, this method is maybe not suitable if you’re developing a new product and need cash injections to build the product to enable you to sell it in the first place.
An increasingly popular way of getting cash in is simply going for an investment round and selling part of your company to an investor. The other way is called bootstrapping and is the route that I have been going down to develop our product, Bump Mark. This means that you apply for various pots of free money. Yes, FREE MONEY – it’s out there. Almost two years in, I still own all of the company and have been able to build a small team and crack on with some really exciting development work. The key, in my eyes, is to build as much value in your company first before selling a part of it. Here are the three main types of funds we have received:
These are usually run by private companies such as Shell, Rolex, etc.
I was no pro at applying for funding when I started but through working with people who are ace at this, I have picked up a few tricks. Remember, your idea is only as good as how you communicate it.
Here is my 10 step process I go through with everything we apply for:
1. Finding applicable opportunities
Sign up for newsletters with this information – this will usually be organised by accelerator programmes or sector-specific initiatives
2. Pick up the damn phone
Usually, there will be one or two things that you’re not sure how to interpret from the prize description. Don’t guess – clarify.
A call is far more effective than an email. The benefits are twofold: You’ll get your answer much faster. You’ll get the opportunity to properly introduce yourself, tell the prize co-ordinator a bit about your project and to make them expect your application. Making this personal contact may get you some insider information that nobody else has
3. Try to not leave it until last minute
Some coordinators will look at a last-minute submission in an unfavourable light – “if they can’t even get organised enough to submit with time to spare, can we trust them with this wad of money?”
4. Read the bloody mark scheme
Some will make this mark scheme available – if so, print it and tick off each point as you add it into your application. Repeat important points if you must.
5. Don’t see the word limit as a target
You’ll make your life and the judges’ lives so much easier if you’re succinct with your story and what you’re trying to achieve
6. Make it as evidence based as possible
Infographics are trendy for a reason
7. The judges are only human – research them
Google search them, stalk them on LinkedIn, speak to your contacts that know them/have met them before
8. Get a fresh pair of eyes on it
They will definitely see something that you don’t – give them the mark scheme and see if they interpret it in a different way
Ask them to tell you which bits can be cut – the less, the better
If you can, give it to somebody who doesn’t know much about your project – you might be forgetting to include something really key that seems obvious to you
9. Ask for feedback
If neither of these things happen ask for feedback through the official channel
When dealing with online submission application forms, don’t forget to save your answers into a word doc so you can file it