How to Raise Money to Fund an Underserved Space

By Oriana Papin-Zoghbi, CEO and Co-Founder of AOA Dx.

Raising money for any new venture will always come with its share of challenges. Earlier this year, I was not only raising money for my new startup but raising money in the middle of a pandemic for an underserved space. The uncertainty of dealing with this new landscape in turbulent times was worrisome but pushed me to create a process to help meet my funding goals.

Aside from spending ample time preparing for my round ahead, I made sure to do the following three things to close my round as quickly as possible. 

Do your due diligence on target investors.

Don’t just target any investors — target the right investors by doing your homework. As a female founder of an ovarian cancer diagnostic startup, I focused heavily on finding investors who invested in diagnostics, women’s health and female founders. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of taking meetings with any investor who will give them the time of day. It’s better to put your time toward taking a deep dive into who the right investors are and tailor your pitch to them specifically. 

It’s imperative to take the time to research the investors you book meetings with to make sure your pitch is relevant and makes sense to them. This will help you build a positive relationship regardless of the outcome. 

Leverage relevant career skills to manage the fundraising process.

As someone with an extensive background in sales, I put my skills to use to create a sales-like approach when it came to finding the right investors. I created an investor funnel and made a list of over 100 target investors. I continually managed the investor pipeline and asked for referrals. Staying organized during this process is so important to keep track of leads, next steps and feedback. 

As you would in a sale, follow up immediately and stay in contact until a decision has been reached. Create a sense of urgency and pinpoint why it’s important to invest now and why it’s important to invest in you. When trying to raise money for an underserved space, you need to provide comprehensive data and information surrounding why you and your company are worth investing in.

Remember, at the end of the day, investors invest in people, which means apart from your company, you need to prove you are worth investing in as well. Be honest and let your true self shine to help you find the right match. 

Fine-tune your story after every pitch.

Don’t assume because a pitch goes well that it means it was perfect. Take every opportunity to learn and improve. I always reflect back on all the questions that were asked and adjust my pitch each time. There shouldn’t be a “one-size-fits-all” approach when pitching to investors. Part of doing your due diligence as mentioned above is making sure you can customize your pitch accordingly. There will always be information that is more relevant to one target investor versus another.

Don’t let the process of raising money intimidate you. When trying to raise funding, especially for an underserved space like women’s health, don’t let the rejections get the best of you. You need to continue pushing and find new ways to show why investors should invest in you. Exude confidence and passion every step of the way and remember to always take feedback into consideration to give your startup the best chance you can.

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