With investment more broadly, we’d used grant funding to prototype and create proof of concepts for our products. But to grow these products and to build continued impact, this type of investment gives us the opportunity to; scale, helps shape business strategy and brings a board of advisors that enables us to grow and invest back into future products.What was raising the investment like? Investment came in three stages. We had initial conversations with Nesta Impact Investments about the possibility of investment and what kind of shape our business needed to be in. We got some really good, early advice from them and this helped us gear up for the next level of conversation with investors. It’s not a short process and the next stage came about 9 months out, where we had a more serious conversation to make sure our approach was in the right ball park. We asked ourselves: how do we land this investment and is our business capable of being invested in? Nesta gave us really strong support to help us shape our business strategy, get our business plan right and start looking at our numbers to articulate value to investors. Even if we hadn’t got the investment, this process alone would have added massive business value. The final stage was all in the detail, where we were trying to get the investment through and signed off. This is generally a straightforward process, once you’re in the orbit of an investor and they’ve told you they’re interested. What comes next? What happens after you’ve got the investment? Unlike most people would imagine, you don’t just land a large investment and get to spend it on green M&Ms and fast cars. You have a very robust business plan in terms of where money is spent and every penny counts. So, we’ve been getting the board of advisors in place, which we’re lucky enough to have Nesta Impact Investments on. We’ve been ramping up recruitment and getting core operational staff in place, such as a CTO and COO. We’ve also moved offices to a space that chimes well with the company and makes us more professional. Next, it’s a matter of working meticulously through the business strategy and looking to deliver on the targets within the plan. So, if you’re looking for impact investment what should you consider?
- Be clear on your vision and how it relates back to a money making business venture – who are your customers and what does realistic growth look like with or without investment?
- Meet as many money people as possible and go with those who get your vision but who are also generous with their advice in how to get yourself investment ready (and listen!)
- Get your admin house in order early – IP agreements, accounts up to date and contracts in place
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