Adam May is the co-founder of Routeshoot, an innovative video-navigation company and one of the 2013 winners of our business support competition, Starter For 10. This programme was designed to showcase and nurture the best creative talent in the South West and through a series of pitch battles awarded 10 winners £10,000 and an extensive array of expert support.
Since proving themselves in our programme, Routeshoot has from gone from strength to strength, winning additional funding and securing its very first overseas customers. With the company on the rise, we asked Adam to reflect on his personal experience and offer some advice to all those about to navigate the investment minefield for the very first time. Here's what he had to say...
Do Your Research
"Seek out as much help as you can and certainly get as much advice as possible. The Creative England competitions are absolutely great and they're probably what you want to be doing before you go for bigger investments. Trying to get investment from elsewhere is very difficult, very nerve wracking and very time consuming and these are a great way for people to get themselves prepared, get your pitch and message sorted out in a competition environment. If you win you get money and chances are, as with the Creative England Starter For 10, you get mentoring as well,”
Decide On Your Direction
"If you're trying to raise money there are a variety of options out there. There are things like Crowdcube which is now looking like a fairly attractive option and there are obviously Angel Investors. I think you really need to think about which of those options for raising money you're going to pursue and then pursue that in a dedicated way, because what Angel Investors want might not be exactly what Crowdcube investors want. In terms of the focus and effort of how you're going to present your business, it's going to be different. I would say get as much advice as you can, work out where you think your best target to get investment is and then work towards producing whatever they need,”
"If you're going for Angel Investment you might be looking at one, two or half a dozen investors that are going to crawl over and maybe have a big involvement in your company. When you go to Crowdcube you may be looking at 1000 very small investors that are going to have no impact on your company at all other than giving you money. What are you most comfortable with? Get very realistic about your pricing and what you're asking for compared to the value. Make sure you've got something realistic because you'll put a lot of effort into trying to get all that prepared,”
Prepare Your Pitch
"Try and understand what your target is and answer concerns but be very concise. Also it doesn't hurt to have worked through the thing three, four, five times, particularly a pitch - go through it, go through it again, go through it again. Some of these competitions you've got two or three stabs at it and that really helps because you get the comments and feedback from people as you're going through, someone might say ‘that doesn't mean anything' or ‘that's too waffly' or ‘you're taking too technical'. Get an independent person to assess it and if they can't understand it perhaps the people that you're presenting it to won't be able to. Be concise, clear and keep revising and improving,”
Don't Worry About Whether or Not You're Ready
"It's horses for courses and depends on the size of what you're going to do. In Creative England's Starter For 10 we had everything ranging from people who just had a concept, to people who had a finished product. So you can go at any time as long as your message is clear, you know what you're doing, where you're going, how you're going to get there, how much it's going to cost and hopefully you've got some reasonable idea of what sort of return you're going to get. It can be just a series of sketch drawings or an idea - if it's a good idea or a series of good sketch drawings, if you believe in it and come across like you believe in it and explain it properly, then people will be prepared to back you,”
Pick The Right Frontman
"It's not the be-all-end-all of the thing but getting the right person to front it is good because you want someone who comes over as passionate and committed. You can't have the guy that's super techy waffling on about how his code's brilliant and something that nobody unless they understand a particular type of code is going to understand. You need a business person to do it but that person has also got to be knowledgeable and passionate and if you work on your pitch you can get that,”
Things Will Go Wrong But Don't Give Up
"Don't give up too quickly and don't throw your hands up at the first obstacle. I think when you set a business up for the first time expect everything to go wrong. It just does. The big stuff all moves forwards but say getting a phone - we walked into a shop and they gave us three phones and then didn't activate them for 48 hours and we were trading. Then we sent a load of stuff off to get printed as flyers to mail to all our prospective customers and the colours came back dreadful. Just expect all the little things to go wrong but you'll get there in the end. Leave yourself a little bit of extra time and a bit of planning doesn't go awry.”
- Access to Finance