The most frequently asked question most inexperienced physician entrepreneurs ask is,
The most frequently asked question most inexperienced physician entrepreneurs ask is, "How do I find investors?" Obviously, there is a lot of advice on this subject, but here are some recurrent themes concerning the strategy and tactics involved:
1. Be sure your idea is ready for investor prime time--i.e. you have the pieces in place and have validated most of the elements of the your business model. The ultimate validation of your model will be if you
have paying customers already.
2. Fight the right kind of investor who identifies with your idea during the right stage of development. Not all investors are the same. Some favor certain industries or products, some have personal connection, some want early stage, some want later stage. Do your homework.
3. Explore alternative and new forms of funding.
4. Network, network, network.
5. Fail early, often, and for as little cost as possible.
6. Self-fund or bootstrap for as long as possible. Build as much value into your idea as possible before shopping it to investors.
7. Consider customer-funded business models if possible.
8. Have a fundraising plan, just like a marketing plan or financial plan, and execute it.
9. Get the right people on the bus as soon as possible.
10. Find the cheapest, smartest capital (not necessarily money) to get to your next critical success factor.
Now that you have some strategy, here are some nuts and bolts:
1. Network, network, network.
2. Create a one-page executive summary, a 3-minute video, a website with a button "for investors" and a 10-slide Powerpoint presentation.
3. Sell to the heart, not to the head and be sure your pitch is investor ready.
4. Be sure you have the right story teller on the team.
5. Create social media buzz about your product or service as part of your plan. You know you are successful when an investor says, "Oh, I've heard of you."
6. Apply for non-diluting sources of capital like SBIR/STTR, state and local eco-devo grants, international research, and development collaborations, etc.
7. Explore accelerators, generators, and incubators that have the right model for you.
8. Find out who funded your competitors and contact them.
9. Think big, but start small demonstrating customer traction with pilots.
10. Network,network, network
Finding seed funding for your idea is as much about when and if as where and how. Be sure you have done your homework, crafted, and validated your business model canvas and done some experiments before giving up control to investors. Good luck with your venture.