Funding Your Startup

When it comes to getting your business off the ground, there are many ways to secure funds, ensuring you have the support and capital needed to ensure growth.

When it comes to getting your business off the ground, there are many ways to secure funds, ensuring you have the support and capital needed to ensure growth.

While so many are accustomed to going the traditional route of pitching their businesses to venture capitalists, there’s a growing concern in Silicon Valley surrounding the expected burst of the startup bubble.

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The days where investors were eager to back these promising businesses are quickly dwindling as “unicorns” seem to be more common every day.

These unicorns used to be unique. The Wall Street Journal even dubbed these startups “Billion Dollar Club” – a list of now 144 venture-backed private companies with valuations of $1 billion or more. Think SnapChat, Uber, Airbnb, Spotify and Dropbox.

More and more skeptics are advising these levels of optimism in Silicon Valley will eventually lead to the demise of some of these unicorns.

While investors are always taking risks, VCs are naturally more cautious when it comes to investing in new companies – Is it worth the risk to invest in the next dying unicorn?

Even with these concerns at bay, there are alternative ways to engage with top influencers and gain experience, capital and mentorship.

Here are some alternative options for those looking to jumpstart their businesses without going the traditional route of pitching venture capitalist investors.

43 North

Startup competitions

43North is a business ideas competition that has awarded $5 million in prizes over the last two years and has already secured funding for a third year.

The competition is part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York.

In turn, the winning companies launch headquarters in the Buffalo area and bring new jobs and opportunity to the growing city. The winners will also have access to an incubator space and access to START-UP NY, which offers freedom from state taxes for 10 years.

TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt is a well-known tech event that debuts revolutionary startups and introduces game-changing technologies.

Here, the Startup Battlefield brings the world’s top early stage startups together on one stage to compete for the Disrupt Cup, a $50,000 prize, and the attention of game changers and drivers of Silicon Valley.

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Accelerator programs

Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups, meaning they help pay your expenses while you’re getting started. They invest in startups twice a year who then move to Silicon Valley for three months.

During this time, the startups work with the accelerators to position their new company for growth. They do have an opportunity to pitch to investors, but it’s up to company founders.

TechStars is a three-month mentorship driven program and a global ecosystem of founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners who all work together to create a network of support.

With more than 2,000 mentors worldwide, the accelerator give founders hands-on guidance and opens doors to capital, mentorship, marketing, business development, customer acquisition and talent recruitment.

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Crowdfunding

With a number of crowdfunding platforms launching every day, it’s important to evaluate carefully. Consumer crowdfunding engages your friends, family and other consumers to donate to and support your endeavors, and it is not attached to equity in your company.

Equity crowdfunding helps a company reach a professional crowd and sell equity online. Equity-based crowdfunding raises 40 times more per company than any other type of crowdfunding in the marketplace.

Some reputable consumer crowdfunding platforms include Indiegogo and Peerbackers. Misfit, a wireless activity tracker much like a FitBit or Jawbone, had a goal of raising $100,000 on Indiegogo, which they achieved in just nine hours, raising $846,675 in total. Their product is now available in Best Buy and Target.
If you prefer to go the route of equity (accredited investor) crowdfunding, check out CircleUp, Grow Venture Community and MicroVentures. CircleUp has helped 135 companies – like Apex, Plum and Nutpods – raise over $150 million.

 

It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether VC funding is right for your business. However, with increased speculation in Silicon Valley and stringent standards to what kinds of companies VCs are looking to work with, it’s important for startups to at least be aware of these alternative funding options.

Has your company had funding success in one of these ways? What other tactics have you looked into for raising funding?

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