Important Funding Lessons from a Successful Startup Founder

Funding Lessons

Startup fundraising is a long and arduous process. There’s just no way around it. Even for those startups with big names and help from major incubators, there’s always a lot of time and hard work involved.

Aihui Ong, founder and CEO of Love With Food, a startup that helps food companies with brand awareness, learned that funding lesson the hard way. A graduate of the 500 Startups accelerator program, Ong thought that raising startup capital might be a simple task.

She did manage to raise $650,000. But it certainly wasn’t easy. She writes in a recent Forbes post:

“If you think fundraising was a piece of cake because we were a 500 alum, think again. In fact those three months were painful and filled with discouragement. They were physically exhausting. And along the way, I constantly had to battle my own thoughts that I was a failure. I had to defend myself against others’ doubts that I couldn’t succeed because I didn’t have an Ivy League education or wasn’t qualified in other ways to run a startup. I was at the brink of giving up countless times.”

Ong also offered up some funding lessons and tips for other startups who want to try several different avenues for finding investors:

  1. Get your company on the Angel List.
  2. Be flexible and willing to meet with investors whenever they’re available.
  3. Reach out to your network to find connections with potential investors.
  4. Follow up with updates, such as thank you notes after meetings.
  5. Email potential investors once a week and keep track of their responses.
  6. Reach out to current investors to see if they can help you make other connections.
  7. Talk to the press at any opportunity.
  8. Wear your company T-shirt, or show off your company pride in any way possible.

There’s no one right way to find investors for your startup. In fact, there are likely several right ways, as Ong’s list shows. If you try one method and don’t get the results you were hoping for, keep trying other options until you get where you need to be.

It likely won’t be quick or easy, no matter what your background is. But if you really want your startup to succeed, you have to be willing to put in the time and hard work to get it funded.

Image: Love with Food 5 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

5 Reactions
  1. Whenever I read about these experience I really question if the system is broken. The investors need the entrepreneurs as much as the entrepreneurs need them (otherwise how will they get their obscene financial gains?) but the balance of power is nowhere near equal. I love crowdfunding because it levels this power dynamic for startups.

    • Yes, there are a lot of different options for startups now. It’s great to see this kind of shift, and it might even end up impacting traditional investors.

  2. Yes. They make it look easy. But it is really far from the truth. Fundraising is not as easy as just getting your product or service out there and waiting for people to buy it. You also need to promote your business to potential funders – if you know what I mean. Also, the idea must be so good that they would not be able to resist it.

  3. Hi Annie,

    Very realistic story. I expected it to be hard!

    But that fact that Aihui Ong still came out fighting (even though at times she wanted to quit) it goes to show what consistency and hard can really achieve!