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Episode 10 – Getting Match Fit for Fundraising

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Episode 10 - Getting match fit for fundraising

Welcome to Episode 10 of Five Minute Finance for Founders where we’re going to take you through our top 5 tips to make sure you’ve got the most chance of getting funded.

Five Minute Finance For Founders

Your regular quick and dirty on the fundamental finance stuff founders should understand as they grow their ventures.

Last year was obviously a tough one for many ventures, but according to data from Beauhurst, there were over 2000 fundraises in the first quarter of 2020 with over £13bn deployed. 

Here at EmergeONE we anticipate a strong start to 2021 as lots of firms who may have held back deploying capital last year now have plenty of dry powder to put to work.

Right, we know your time is valuable, so we won’t waste it, that’s a promise!



1. Know your numbers, know what you need

We often see ventures that aren’t certain about the amount of capital they’re looking to raise. This is often as a result of not having a good command of their performance or sufficient thought given to the milestones they are trying to reach. Because of that they get caught out when investors challenge them on basic questions which lowers their chance of success. Know your numbers, be that traction to date, ownership structure, burn rate or cash need – it’ll massively raise your chances of getting invested.

2. The deck is not the pitch

The best deck serves one purpose and one purpose only – to get an investor interested enough that they want to have a conversation to take things forward. The deck needs to communicate enough information to get an investor interested, but not so much information that it becomes death by powerpoint. That means fewer words, well presented with all the impact up front. If you have users say that on slide 1, not slide 25. Pay a designer and get the deck designed out, appearances matter, as does your narrative. Nail your story if you want any chance of getting invested.

3. Don’t go fishing for whales with a minnow

If you are a pre-revenue, marketplace business don’t go out to talk to someone like Notion Capital who only invest in scaling SaaS businesses. Know what investors are appropriate to your stage, vertical and business model and stay in lane. Most investors will not be rude but it shows that you have not taken the time to do your homework and might put them off down the track. There’s so much public information available nowadays that there’s really no excuse for going after a late stage fund when you’re barely out of the gates.

4. Admin sucks but it’s essential

Save yourself time, money and headaches in the future by ensuring that you have your legal and administrative documents in good shape. That means making sure your articles and shareholders’ agreements are in place and that you use them to guide how the round works. If you need to get authorisation to issue shares, get the authorisation; if your shareholders have pre-emption rights, ensure they have taken them up or waive them, send subscription agreements, file what you need to file at Companies House in the UK (or the equivalent in other jurisdictions) and always keep records straight. It may seem like a hassle now, but in future rounds or if you get to an exit event, having had these things done properly and documented will stand you in good stead.

5. Give yourself enough time

We often get called into a venture when they are only a couple of months away from running out of cash. And whilst there are some interesting products out there that might be able to help extend runway a little, there is no silver bullet if you need to raise finance, and this takes time. Depending on the size of the round, the number of shareholders already on board and likely to follow-on, the likelihood of needing institutional (i.e. venture) capital and – let’s face it – the strength of your proposition it could take 3 to 6 months if not more to finalise a round. Don’t leave it to the last minute, give yourself the time to get it done right.

So there you go, another five(ish!) minute dive into finance for founders and we hope you found it truly useful.

Finally, because we know there’s no cookie cutter approach to venture building you can let us know what you want us to talk about by emailing us at and if you want to ensure you get this straight to your inbox every week, just sign-up for our newsletter, a pop-up will appear momentarily. 

We're changing the finance function, find out how we can help you grow.

The pros and cons of venture capital.

Guest expert - The pros and cons of venture capital

Gautam Sahgal MD of Perkbox shares his insights on venture capital.

In the first in our regular series of articles from the leaders of successfull growth companies Gautam Sahgal from Perkbox shares his insights into venture capital. We’re delighted that Gautam agreed to write our first article, he’s overseen the growth of Perkbox from a team of 50 to 200, raising in excess of £20 million along the way.


Techcrunch. Your founder friends. LinkedIn. Sometimes it can feel like everyone in your social circle as a founder of a business is talking about fundraising and their success with it – and of course how great things are going (things are always going great, aren’t they?).  And then you ask yourself the questions:

“How come I’m not doing that? Should I be? What’s wrong with me?”

“Do I know what I’m doing?”

“Am I uncool or is my business unsuccessful if I don’t raise funds with a VC?”

These questions and doubts are common – in fact, almost universal. Frequently both founders and early employees forget that fundraising is a means to an end and not the goal in of itself. Its so easy, in particular when everyone out there is pushing you to give up a piece of your business. 

So how should we think about this? How can we go through a mental list that will help you decide whether to do this or not. Well, fear not dear founder friends. You are founders who won’t flounder: here are the main considerations to take into account when deciding whether this method of financing the business is appropriate for you. 




First things first, just to cut through the bull….most of you do not need venture capital from a VC firm. Yup, that’s right. I just said what many think but few say. Most – in fact the vast majority even of hugely successful businesses were not venture backed and indeed should not be venture backed. 

To understand whether you need or want venture at all – remember two things: 

  • Someone is trying to convince you to give up a piece of your business to enhance their returns by generating 5-10x their money. What are you getting for that?

  • Venture capital is kerosene to your jet. No jet, no kerosene required. 

If you have a business that really has found product-market fit and you want to – or more importantly NEED to –  scale rapidly, venture capital is effectively kerosene. The key consideration is honestly thinking through whether product-market fit has been achieved and the speed of scaling requires this type of financing. Kerosene powers a jet. If you’re not a jet, you’ll just explode.

 If you don’t feel the “pull” of the market before having venture capital, then funding will not help and that level of funding will generally cause you to do unproductive things. In Spiderman’s immortal words: “with great power comes great responsibility”. First really assess whether you need that superpower. 

Beyond product market fit, raising venture capital can be important if you’ve founded a business that can create some sort of local monopoly whether that be through a network effect (think social media), through density in an urban area (think transport by car or food delivery) or through exceptionally powerful branding that crowds out competitors. If you have product-market fit, and creating a local monopoly is achievable then scaling fast with VC funding is again a real consideration to pre-empt competition. 

Of course, that is not the case with most businesses. Breweries don’t have the same dynamics as Uber. Bakeries aren’t Deliveroo. Most juice businesses are not Innocent Drinks. 


Hiring Top Talent


Tied to scaling fast is the consideration of attracting top talent. Raising VC funding can play a part in being able to attract top talent to your company. For one, its indication that you are creating a rocket (otherwise you don’t need venture capital, remember? Its kerosene!). 

Secondly, it gives you the implicit (and explicit) backing of the venture capital firm that has invested in you. They will have a network of top talent and for that matter the top recruiters will love to work for them. People will find you and want you. 

The flipside of course is that sometimes you don’t want the people who find you. Some of the best people are attracted to VC backed companies – equally well, sometimes being the belle at the ball attracts the wrong attention. It will become more challenging to you to understand the real motivations behind candidates desires to work at your company. You will find that creating options pools and plans consumes your time (and is really important!). And it will become supremely challenging to create and maintain the kind of culture you wanted as a founder as the company attracts people who interested in the mission, but sometimes also in the glitz of the VC backed company. 


EmergeONE helps build out the right finance talent for growth businesses, learn more via the link below. 





There’s the image in your head. Now that you’ve raised funding from HotShit Ventures, you’ll be spending your time hob-nobbing with their 23x portfolio company ShitHot Corp and you’ll learn all their secrets. The partners pitched to you how they know everyone who is anyone. And that you’ll learn secret handshakes by accepting their money. 

You’re on your way to being on the cover of the FT. This is the start of the journey. 

No. Once again, control your emotions here. It is true that associates and partners at VC firms have large networks, and know companies that succeed spectacularly and others that don’t. 

The very simple truth is – if they don’t have real context in your space, most VCs bring funding and only that. And then put a junior person on your board as an observer. You have to be good at connecting the dots – don’t expect it from others. While you would think that cultivating synergy and knowledge sharing would be a big focus of most funds, the simple truth is it isn’t (with very few exceptions, mostly American). Most VC firms tend to worry about their problem, not yours. Their problem is deploying capital quickly into a number of deals that have potential. And then waiting for you to do your job. They are along for the ride. You are the driver. 

That doesn’t mean the networks they have are not useful. They absolutely can be. But you are going to have to find out how to leverage that. Connecting the dots is your responsibility and will be part of your workload. 


Time Investment & Pound of flesh



Raising funds is – for an extended time – a full time job. All that time could alternatively be spent on the business itself. It is really difficult to manage the process of fundraising and day to day management. Generally, one side suffers a bit. Sometimes more than a bit. 

Given that point, remember the tradeoffs before embarking on the journey:

  • You will be asked to give up a portion of what is yours and frequently an enhanced portion of future returns, for the sake of that much bigger tomorrow. Ask yourself how big that tomorrow has to be to justify the decision. 

  • You will invite someone into your family for a long period of time. If its the right person, that can be fantastic. If its the wrong person, dramatic. Either way, it changes the dynamics of your company and with your close employees and / or co-founders. 

  • You are promising someone to give them a return. In the case of VC, very frequently a 5-10x return. By doing that, you have already promised some sort of exit today. The business was beautiful when in your head it was forever. By raising money, you have promised an exit. Think that through carefully and what it means for your culture, your expected growth and how you feel about the business. 

As ever in life, the greatest strengths can be the greatest weaknesses. Venture capital financing is powerful. Great companies have been built on the basis of VC money. But when making the decision, realise that most companies do not require that mechanic. It is a useful tool in certain situations. And it is a tool that you coldly need to assess. 


Remember at all times why you are an entrepreneur: it needs to work for you. You should not work for it. 


Do you need top talent to fast track your growth?

Episode 5 – Finishing off Fundraising Fundamentals

Episode 5 - Finishing off Fundraising Fundamentals

Welcome to Episode 5 of Five Minute Finance for Founders where we’re going to walk through some of the stuff that you’ll actually need to do once you’ve decided you need to go out and fundraise.

Your time is valuable, so we won’t waste it, that’s a promise!

Deciding to go out and fundraise is the ‘easy’ bit, many founders we work with hugely underestimate the time, energy and (in case you missed it) TIME(!) it takes to actually complete a fundraise or financing round. Some of that may be due to external factors, and at the moment there is no bigger external factor than COVID19, but for many investors, it’s business as usual and some of the delay can be avoided by just having your ‘house in order’. So here are some of the things that you can do to make your lives easier (this is a little bit UK skewed in some parts, but most of it stands wherever you are in the world.

  • How should my pitch deck flow?
  • What about the legal stuff?
  • Who should I approach?
  • What next.

The How: We’ve been involved with decksender since it launched, and have been fortunate enough to have looked at A LOT of decks, good, bad and just plain ugly; and here’s what you need to know:

  • First off the bat, your deck’s function is to get a meeting and have a conversation. It shouldn’t (and can’t) be an in depth analysis of every part of your venture.
  • Short, simple and elegant wins the day.
  • If you’ve already got some decent traction, put your key metrics right up front on the deck.
  • Remember, whoever you’re pitching to won’t necessarily know your product and market as well as you do, don’t use lots of jargon and make it easier for them to scan by using images where you can.
  • Use the hero’s journey to explain how your product solves a problem for the hero (your customer persona).
  • Make sure you nail the problem, the solution, the urgency of the need, the size of the market, the team and its credentials, the numbers and the ‘ask’.
  • Invest in a designer to make sure the deck really pops and send it out to friendly folk to get feedback.
  • Finally, your deck and your financial model should go hand in hand, they are both narratives, one in words, one in numbers.

What about the Legals: Every jurisdiction will have different requirements that you need to be wary of; make sure you take the right advice to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law. In the UK, you’ll have to follow the Companies Act, your own Articles of Association or Shareholders Agreement to see what levels of consent you need from your board and shareholders as well as what you’ll need to do about pre-emption rights (the right of previous shareholders to re-invest on the same economic terms to retain their shareholding) amongst other things.

If you’re looking to offer shares qualifying under SEIS or EIS investment schemes, you may wish to consider getting Advance Assurance from HMRC.

You may need to construct a term sheet, you’ll almost certainly need to put together a subscription agreement (essentially the contract between the investor and the venture for the purchase of shares). In short there are a bunch of things you’ll probably require and many ventures fall over at later stages because they haven’t maintained good hygiene with their paperwork. 

It’s dry, but essential, don’t fall into the trap that you can sort it later.

Who Should I Approach: There has been a lot of capital floating around of late and it seems that getting funded is easy – this is not necessarily the reality. Larger rounds, where you can’t rely on angel investors but may need to start looking at venture capital (VC) can be tough if you aren’t a ‘go big or go home’ type of venture that have been the darlings of VC. But again, there’s a bunch of stuff you can do to give yourself a better chance than just taking a spray and pray approach.

  • At the risk of repeating ourselves, make really sure that raising external capital and especially VC is right for your business.
  • Do your research, some funds or angels will only invest at certain stages, others in certain verticals or business models. Don’t go to Notion Capital with a pre seed, D2C, eComm venture.
  • Check if they’ve invested in a competitor or adjacent business, if so, it’s unlikely they’ll take a bet on another venture that might torpedo their existing investment.
  • Create a long list of who you want to approach and then cross match that with people you know in the firm or folk in your network that may know them. (Side note, there is nothing inherently wrong with using a ‘broker’ to assist if you need to).
  • Refine your approach, make your email / message resonate – remember the goal is to get a meeting. 
  • If you can’t figure a connection into the firm, then don’t worry about cold emailing, the reality is that investors are hungry for deal flow, the more they see, the more chances they have to take a swing at the one that returns the fund.
  • And then, and here’s what most people don’t get, it’s about getting meetings, telling your story and effectively selling you, your team, your product and the market. In that order.
  • Remember that you’ll probably need to secure a lead investor in order to attract others, doesn’t mean you should go in that order, get commitments and ask each and every one if they’d consider leading.
  • Take every meeting you can, get as much feedback as you can, keep feeding the top of the funnel until you get that term sheet, or better yet, that cheque.

Finally, What Next?: In a perfect world, the investor(s) will issue a term sheet that is wholly acceptable to you, price is right, no preferences, heck they won’t even take a board seat dontcherknow. They’ll deposit funds, you’ll issue them shares and then they’ll let you go off and keep growing. 

Reality check! The likelihood is that once you’ve got the nod from an investor, you’re still going to have to spend some time negotiating on some of the stuff we talk about above, not to mention the due diligence (DD) the investor will likely undertake (we once helped a client with almost 200 lines of DD requests! This process can take a couple of months in itself depending on what’s required, so keep conversations live if you can as there’s still a possibility that the deal could fall over.

Assuming it doesn’t, be prepared to start pushing harder than ever before, VCs are like any other investors, they’re looking for a big return on their investment and that’s what you ultimately are for them. Capital comes with a cost, as long as you are conscious of that, have at it!

And if you’re still not sure how to move forward, you may want to consider investing in a fundraising bootcamp like this one run by all round good guy and friend of EmergeONE Francois Mazoudier.

So there you go, another five(ish!) minute dive into finance for founders and we hope you found it truly useful.

Finally, because we know there’s no cookie cutter approach to venture building you can let us know what you want us to talk about by emailing us at and if you want to ensure you get this straight to your inbox every week, just sign up here.

Right, back to building!

Aarish and the EmergeOne team

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We're changing the finance function, find out how we can help you grow.