Pocket Sun may only be 24 years young but she has already made it on the cover of Forbes Asia, featured as 30 Under 30 Asia in Venture Capital & Finance. As the founder of the first female-led millennial venture capital, SoGal Ventures, Pocket has advised startups across Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, China, and Singapore. The SoGal community of female investors and entrepreneurs is present in more than 8 countries and counting. In March 2015, she was named as LinkedIn 2015 Top Voices in VC & Entrepreneurship.
Here is some advice she shared with female founders during a breakfast session with female entrepreneurs:
Before taking the first leap
Be mentally ready for the hardship. Entrepreneurship is often glamourised in the media but the truth is, it is a lot of hard work.
Inform your family and friends on what you’re working on, the vision that you have for your company – so that they are more understanding when you get too busy to meet them.
Get feedback from users and constantly improve on your products and services.
Find out if people are willing to pay for what you are offering and what are the payment methods preferred. (Subscription fee? One-time payment? Online or offline?)
Know how much you are spending on customer acquisition so that you know how profitable your business really is.
Have a plan on how you would use investment money even before seeking investors.
Don’t rush when looking for investors, wait for the best fit. A bad investor will constantly check on what you’re doing while a good investor will trust you and let you do your thing.
NEVER say that you have no competitors. That is not a good thing as it means that there is no real need for your product, there are surely indirect competitors.
On not taking no for an answer from investors
You can do anything you set your mind to, don’t be afraid of rejections.
You will have to pitch to at least 200 people if your goal is getting 20 investors interested.
They don’t understand your “why”.
Building a complementary core team
All three founding members of your company cannot be just good at doing at one thing such as, business. Put together a group of people who have different skill sets.
Three important functions:
- Business 2. Technical 3. Design
After the money is in the bag
Keep your investors updated on the progress and growth on your company, even if they don’t ask.
Don’t be afraid to argue with your investors if you think that they are wrong and come to an amicable solution.
Finding a mentor
Get to know more people and if that particular person does not have relevant experience in your industry, ask them if there is someone else they know that could be helpful for you. Tap on their network.
Getting sponsors for your events
Be clear on what they get out of sponsoring. Leverage on everything that you have gotten done. Be it the speakers, the venue, the target audience.
How much money should you be asking for?
General rule would be to raise enough funds to last you for the next 12-18 months. Fund-raising is time-consuming and it’s best to have some time in between to actually work on the business than meeting with investors.
One last note?
Just don’t die! There are always opportunities out there.