Founder Focus: Firefly Experience Limited
We asked all of our entrepreneur users to share their funding journeys, for other start-ups to learn about how their peers approach raising capital.
We will be running a series of blogs about these journeys over the coming weeks, today it is with Shawn Low (https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawn-low), Co-founder of Firefly Experience Limited (https://firef.ly/)
What’s the name of the company?
What’s your elevator pitch?
Firef.ly is a smart, location-based mobile app that distills the best of trip planning, travel guides, journalling, sharing and personalised mementos, designed for today’s smartphone-enabled traveller.
When did you start trying to raise your most recent round?
About 3-4 months ago. We are looking for a bridge round (Seed+) after our seed raise 1.5 years ago. This next round is for us to market our Firef.ly travel app as well as to continue to build out the product.
How did you work out which investors you were going to approach?
We start with pre-existing networks and then branch out to people we meet at events, conferences and through introductions. Of course, we’ve gotten the usual, ‘Love the product and team…come back to us when you’ve got more traction.’ more times than we can count.
What documentation did you initially send to your targeted investors? I.e. a one pager?, a short slide deck? a long slide deck?
We usually meet them face to face for a chat and demo. Then follow up with documents they might need or ask for including a one-pager, presentation deck and business plan. We never send out one-pagers or other documentation cold. We prefer to get a warm introduction before actually doing the harder business side of things.
Was there a typical response from the investors you targeted?
Most investors are professional enough to listen to a pitch before deciding to either pass or to take it to the next stage. Most investors are professional enough to listen to a pitch before deciding to either pass or to take it to the next stage.
Have you received any interest from investors and have you had any meetings?
Yes we have.
What common questions have you been asked by investors?
How do you make money? How do you get more users?
Is there anything you wish you hadn’t said in an investor meeting?
Can’t think about any faux pas we’ve made.
In your opinion, what are the “no-nos” worth bearing in mind when talking to investors?
There aren’t no-nos per se. It’s worth making sure that the investors you approach actually have portfolios in your sector. We don’t really believe in consultancies who want you to ‘pay to play’ (IE; for an upfront fee they will showcase your business to their networks).
Have you got any advice for other entrepreneurs who are preparing for an investor meeting?
Be genuine. Think about your presentation, rehearse and know exactly what you are going to say. If you’re demo-ing a product, make sure it’s properly set up and works. Where possible, try to get warm introductions to investors instead of coming in cold. Network at the right events and always follow up.
Have you raised anything so far as a result of your efforts?
We raised a seed round of more than £340k via crowdfunding platform Seedrs as well as a non-equity grant from Innovate UK.
If you have raised money, what do you think was the most compelling factor about you/the business?
The vision and the team. These in tandem helped convince investors and people that we were not only on the right track with our idea but had also assembled a team who could execute on our vision.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced along the way?
Hustling for investment is a necessary evil that takes time away from actually building out Firef.ly. Also, there’s a challenge in convincing the more conservative investors in the UK.
What’s your overall view on the UK funding market? Tough? Easy? Over-hyped?
Tough. Investors in the UK are more conservative as compared to their counterparts in the US and prefer to adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude before opening up their chequebooks.
We are a friendly group who believe in sharing tips, resources, contacts, leads and such with other startups. The only way we succeed is if we all were generous and adopted a more positive outlook to other startups in this ecosystem.