As part of our first ever FinTech Accelerator Programme, our cohort sat down with a VC panel to talk all things fundraising. Geared towards prepping the cohort who were looking for VC funding the session was aimed at giving them first-hand insight into the upcoming investment climate for FinTech startups.
We welcomed two wonderful speakers, both well-acquainted with the world of VC funding:
Kibriya Rahman, Investor at Albion VC
Kibriya was previously a consultant, operating in the tech space before joining AlbionVC, where he now leads investments in the general software sector and FinTech.
Shivani Shashidar, Investment Executive at Illuminate Financial
Shivani was also previously a consultant, as well as working for Deloitte in their Financial Services sector. She now helps Illuminate Financial capture late seed to Series A startups for investment.
Both panelists covered some of their predictions for the upcoming investment climate, saying that now more than ever VCs are looking to build stronger relationships with businesses, particularly in the FinTech sector.
The cohort were active participants in the discussion, asking advice on best practices when reaching out to VCs and what a ‘successful’ portfolio looks like to them.
To this, Shivani answered with a huge stress on the importance of the pitch deck. Everything you want to say must be included in that initial pitch deck, including your Team, Market, Product, and Competitor Analysis. These slides can often help VCs decide on whether they want to invest in your business before having the initial call with you, so it’s important to put research and effort into them.
Both stressed the importance of really knowing which VCs you want to speak and reach out to, as well as what stage they normally invest in (AlbionVC – Series A; Illuminate Financial – Late Seed to Series A). Additionally, familiarise yourself with their existing portfolio if you can. It’s not good practice for VCs to invest in two identical businesses, but instead they look for complimentary ones, so it decreases the chance of internal competition for them.
So if you’re a Pre-Seed Founder looking for investment from a VC who specialises in Series A, AND has one of your product’s competitors in their portfolio, chances are you won’t be receiving investment from them. Doing this kind of research into your VCs will save you time and effort in the long run.
As the session came to a close, Shivani and Kibriya both gave insight to what they believe to be the top three qualities they look for in a FinTech founder.
Shivani: “Essentially, it all depends on the stage of the business, but these are the top three qualities for me:
I’m looking for a founder with unique insight into the space and who can demonstrate that they have the right team to scale their business.
Flexibility – we want a founder who can pivot (for example, if a founder tries something that fails then they can accept it and move on).
Resilience and hustle – as a startup, things won’t always go as planned but I’m looking for a founder who won’t give up, but who would find a Plan B.”
“Communication skills are critical. A good founder needs to sell their business and good communication is a critical skill they’re going to have to develop. From LinkedIn outreach to email - how you communicate with people is critical.
Ability to take on feedback is also important. A founder will receive feedback from numerous people including investors, staff, clients & customers. It’s important that a founder is receptive to feedback and that they can demonstrate this when speaking with VCs.
I’m also looking for a founder who fundamentally believes in what they’re doing. As a founder there will be highs and lows and I want someone who fundamentally believes in their business and keeps going.”
Both of our VC guests stressed the importance of doing your research into both your own business, but also the VCs you’re wanting investment from. This would be directly reflected in their pitch decks, which made this session incredibly useful before the cohort’s final session with Vantage at the pitch deck workshop! We are so excited to see where this cohort goes after a successful 6 weeks of workshops and networking, and in particular how they take away the insights from our fantastic VC panelists.