While the media may make it sound incredibly easy to raise money for virtually any startup business idea, it isn’t always that simple.
In fact, even the most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs of what are now billion-dollar businesses had to face hundreds of investor rejections and often bootstrapped their ventures for years.
So, what creative ways are there for you to raise the funds you need for your business?
Donation crowdfunding may not seem as edgy and new as it was before debt and equity crowdfunding exploded onto the scene, but don’t dismiss it. In some cases, it may be a better fitting option.
If you have a real product, then donation crowdfunding can be a spectacular way to gain the visibility and customers you crave, while bringing in the money.
All without having to give up equity in your company or take on debt obligations.
Others have raised millions with this strategy. You could too. Even if it is just a stepping stone to other types of fundraising.
A more direct approach is to just to get right to sales. Fundraising has its place. For some startups, it is an absolute must for it to work.
For others, raising comes with many more benefits than the money. The money can be just a nice to have extra. Others just go right into fundraising and pitching investors because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Yet, if your customers can fund your venture then you don’t need to give up equity or take on the debt and pay interest. This can be through pre-orders for products and even big annual contracts and subscriptions.
Big corporations are increasingly investing in startups. They also represent big enterprise customers and sales channel partners who can bundle your products and services with theirs.
If you position your startup right, then it may be compelling for them to invest in you. One day, they may be your acquirer.
Show Up To Live Pitching Events
There are live pitching opportunities all over the country all the time. There are highly organized and filtered, like Shark Tank.
There are also small angel groups and coworking spaces which hold regular pitching and investing nights.
Attend & Win Competitions
Most competitions aren’t going to offer giant sums, but they can offer substantial sums and a lot of credibility and visibility which can help attract other investors.
These can include university entrepreneurship and business plan competitions, coding marathons, startup weekends, and even applying for local grants.
While it may be a long shot, cold pitching can work. It has worked incredibly well for some who have landed big funding from famous angel investors.
You can take to Twitter and LinkedIn and send your pitch messages directly to angels and investment funds. You can email them.
Or you can just show up at their offices and wherever they are and get noticed.
Content Marketing and the Media
It’s amazing how powerful even a single piece of great content can be today.
Some of the most successful founders and CEOs I’ve interviewed on the Dealmakers Podcast say fundraising finally clicked for them after publishing a blog post, being mentioned on TechCrunch, or getting in the press. It could be one of the highest ROI moves you can make.
One great piece or campaign of pieces can create a chain effect that spreads, gets noticed by investors and adds a lot of value. You don’t just have to wait to get found either. Start publishing your own content.
Credit & Financing
There are plenty of ways to leverage credit and financing without having to take on partners and give up equity in your company. This may be far faster than going out to endless investor meetings and having to create all the materials to present to investors.
In the beginning, this may be personal credit cards and lines of credit. You can use store cards and specialized financing for physical needs like computers, office supplies, and equipment.
Some vendors may also finance you over time. Then there are small business loans and credit cards.
As you grow and bring in some revenues you may be able to get merchant cash advance and working capital loans to help your business leap to the next level.
Friends & Family
Your friends and family should be your initial backers. This can be in exchange for a very small amount of equity, which can be earned and vested over time.
Or, it can be in the form of personal loans and convertible notes that may not be directly attached to the business at the beginning. Or they can become your business partners.
Plenty of highly successful businesses were started with just $1,000. Or, you may have connections with hundreds of thousands in retirement accounts that could use better investment opportunities. Keep sharing your plans and the opportunity.
There are plenty of creative ways to raise the money you need for your startup. Whether you just need $1,000 to get going or several million, these strategies can help you secure the funds to launch, fill in the gaps and grow.
Find the one which fits you best and start putting it to work so that you can bring your vision to life.
Learn more about creative funding in this fundraising training.
Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and the author of The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley & Sons, the book was named one of the best books for entrepreneurs. The book offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, Alejandro built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online.
Prior to CoFoundersLab, Alejandro worked as a lawyer at King & Spalding where he was involved in one of the biggest investment arbitration cases in history ($113 billion at stake).
Alejandro is an active speaker and has given guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business, Columbia Business School, and at NYU Stern School of Business.
Alejandro has been involved with the JOBS Act since inception and was invited to the White House and the US House of Representatives to provide his stands on the new regulatory changes concerning fundraising online.