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  • Writer's pictureSam Scougall-Knight

How To Start Up podcast season 9: all things investment

FF&M’s How To Start Up podcast, the entrepreneur’s ultimate handbook, is halfway through its ninth season all about investment. Guests including Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Blacks, and Daisy Knatchbull, founder of The Deck, are some of the successful entrepreneurs sharing their experiences and insights with new founders.

Host Juliet Fallowfield, MD of FF&M, comments, “given raising investment is one of the most challenging aspects of scaling a company, I wanted to hear from founders who have successfully navigated this tricky path and used their investment to catalyse their companies’ growth. From how to know when is the right time to raise investment, to how to value your business, I’ve really enjoyed hearing such valuable advice from our brilliant guests this season. We’ve got more investment episodes to come so keep listening for even more great advice”.

To listen to all episodes from season 9, click here. Please do rate, review and follow How To Start Up if you enjoy the episodes we’re publishing as it really helps others discover the podcast. We’d love to hear your feedback and questions for future guests too.

For founders raising investment in the UK, securing capital has become a lot more challenging in 2023. For instance, Investment Week reported last month that the value of UK venture capital deals in Q1-Q3 of 2023 fell by 43.1% year-on-year while the number of UK VC deals fell by 25.9% in the same period. Given there is less capital available, raising investment has therefore become more competitive. Founders are rightly asking questions like ‘how do I raise investment?’ and ‘is now a good time to raise investment for my business?’. From being able to confidently convey your business proposition to approaching those you respect for support, our guests so far have shared brilliant advice for founders raising investment.

A common question that has arisen around raising investment is how to know when is the right time to raise investment. We asked Jo Fairley, co-founder of the renowned chocolate company Green & Blacks, to share her thoughts. Jo advised us that if your business grows quickly you may find your cash flow is restricted, so you may then need to raise investment. However, Jo cautioned against taking money from an investor you don’t feel comfortable with and suggested you may be wise to keep your day job in the early stages of growing your business to finance growth, without immediately turning to investors. This is because ultimately they dilute your shareholding and overall control of your business.

Once you’ve decided to raise investment, for a first-time founder thinking about approaching investors can be daunting. Given many founders don’t know where to start, we invited Francesca Smith, founder of Frankie’s: a membership for businesswomen that helps them connect, collaborate and engage with finance, to offer her thoughts. Frankie shared how beneficial it is to meet prospective investors organically and to build relationships with those you could see yourself working with. LinkedIn and events are great places to start building this network. Frankie also noted that while it’s important to feel comfortable with your chosen investor, they also need to be someone who challenges you and disagrees with you on occasion. Ultimately, this will push you outside your comfort zone and help you make more informed decisions in the long run.

It’s clear that the investment landscape is more challenging than ever for founders seeking cash to grow their ventures. For instance, Sifted is reporting that the pre-series A deal number has hit a 3-year low, demonstrating how much more competitive it is for founders raising now. Ed Lee, founder & director of investment and consultancy firm Bowbridge Capital, shared his advice on how to value your business and gave an insight into what investors are looking for when assessing the valuation you place on your company. Ed also stressed the need to instil confidence in prospective investors from the start so that they understand your business proposition as well as you do, improving your chances of securing their money.

If you don’t have a background in finance, it can be challenging to get all your business financials ready for investors to review. To learn more about how to do this, Juliet invited Daisy Knatchbull, founder of The Deck, the first women’s-only tailoring house to have a shopfront in Savile Row (in its 200-year history), to share her experiences. Having not come from a finance background herself, Daisy advised founders to school themselves in basic economics and finance via online courses, allowing you to hold your own and feel confident when speaking with prospective investors. Daisy also stressed the importance of not being afraid to ask questions to mentors and people you respect to give you greater confidence when raising investment, given it’s a challenging and complex task.

While founders primarily seek investors because their businesses require more cash to grow, investors are also well-placed to offer other types of non-financial support. To learn more about this, Juliet spoke with Michael Tobin OBE, a serial founder, author and non-executive chairman of several international businesses. Michael advises new founders to look for investors who have helpful contacts within your sector so that you can ask them to make introductions to partners who can help you scale. Michael also stressed the importance of continuing to network even once you’ve partnered with an investor, as you never know who might be able to open helpful doors for you in the future.

We’re really grateful to all our guests so far for sharing their advice and guiding our listeners on how to raise investment for their businesses. Next in the season, we’ll be hearing from more experienced founders on topics including how to pitch to an angel investor, how to pitch to a VC, how to pitch to Dragon’s Den, how to crowdfund for your business and how to set up a data room for investment.

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About Fallow, Field & Mason:

Fallow, Field & Mason is a B Corp Certified PR, communications and podcast production consultancy working with clients to build the next generation of responsible businesses. Believing that a company's founder, creative director or internal team is their own best storyteller when it comes to PR, we enable them to own their PR in-house for the long-term.

FF&M also offers an end-to-end podcast production service to drive further brand awareness in an intelligent, approachable and engaging way.

Before launching FF&M, Founder and Managing Director Juliet Fallowfield built and led in-house global press offices for luxury brands including CHANEL, Burberry, Shangri-La Hotels and De Beers for over 20 years.

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