Written by Cindy Sideris, Senior Platform Manager, 43North
Last month, 43North welcomed 30 venture capitalists from around the U.S. to judge 43North Finals in Buffalo. As a new twist on this year’s 43North Finals Week, we added a Founder Summit – thanks to our partners at National Grid – where five of the visiting investors shared their knowledge with founders throughout the Buffalo startup ecosystem.
Topics included how to reach Gen Z consumers, what VCs really want to see during the fundraising process, and raising capital outside of your geographic area – all which gave local entrepreneurs a crash course in marketing, fundraising, and the power of community.
We’re excited to share a few tips and highlights below:
The Power of Community
, spoke to communities benefiting startups – by providing a support network, sense of purpose, inspiration, rapport, and resilience. As Buffalo is known as “the city of good neighbors,” this community-centric approach to startups and scaling your business makes perfect sense to integrate here. From programs like Ignite Buffalo, to our partner organizations such as Tech Buffalo, Viaduct, and Be in Buffalo (among many others), as well as the numerous universities with startup programming to collaborate with – the Buffalo community is embracing the startup scene and constantly evolving to support fast-growing companies.
The Basics of Venture Capital Investing
Next up was Erica Duignan-Minnihan, Founding Partner at Reign Ventures and the founder of 1000 Angels. Erica broke down the basics of venture capital investing from a VC perspective, including some strategies and criteria for investment. Some the basics here that many funds share in their investment criteria are:
1. Founder-Market Fit: Why is your team ideal for executing this idea?
2. Product-Market Fit: Compared to your competition, what makes you 10x better?
3. Traction: Is there proven demand for what you’re building?
4. Scalable: Do you have the potential to scale to $50M+ in annual revenue in 5 years?
Investors aren’t just giving you money – they are also investing their time and resources into you and your company. Show them why they should invest their time and money with you, specifically!
How to Reach Investors in Other Cities
How do you reach VCs and investors, especially ones outside of your geographic area? This hits home for us, and for many founders based outside of the larger tech hubs like Silicon Valley and NYC. Lorine Pendleton, an Investment Partner at Portfolia Rising America Funds and one of Marie Claire‘s 50 Most Connected Women, gave some insight.
1. Build a contact list of current & prospective investors
2. Provide regular company updates, via newsletters or otherwise
3. Engage- whether that’s through social media, podcasts, attending conferences, or even networking with alumni and industry networks you’re a part of
Due to the shifting nature of work to remote or hybrid during the Covid pandemic, investors are more open to connections virtually. Use this to your advantage!
How to Reach Gen-Z Consumers
Next up, the Gen Z Queen herself, Meagan Loyst. Meagan most recently made the move from an Associate at Lerer Hippeau Ventures to working full-time as the Founder of Gen Z VCs. She spoke to how Gen Z, which is now 35% of the global population, wants to create and be seen – whether that’s on TikTok or other social media platforms.
As a founder, this is especially valuable to note – how do you create and craft content to appeal to Gen Z? How do you include them in your marketing or user-generated content? Figure this out, and you’ll be on your way to engaging younger consumers ahead of your competition.
Using Capital to Build Scalable Companies
The event wrapped up with Lauren Washington, Co-Founder and CEO of Fundr. Lauren was also the Co-Founder and CEO of 43North portfolio company KeepUp, so we were thrilled to welcome her back to Buffalo and 43North for the week! Lauren gave some great advice on how to use capital to build scalable companies.
What type of capital is right for you and your business? Not everyone needs to, or should, raise from VCs. Other options include:
1. Targeting angel investors
3. Bootstraping or self-funding your business enough to not give away equity to VCs
Figure out what’s best for you at this moment, and go from there!
Check out some more photos of the event here, and we hope to see you at the next 43North Founder Summit – whether on stage or in the audience!