TES EduProgram-Fundraisingđź’°

Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

Over the course of the first semester in college, I actually had the immense fortune of being selected for the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society’s new EduProgram.
Over 5 weeks, the EduProgram taught participants about 5 key pillars of entrepreneurship; namely fundraising, ideation, hiring, pitching and growth. Every single session saw a panel of different founders, CEOs, investors and other interesting business leaders come in and give their own personal insights and thoughts on the weekly topic, which always sparked some very engaging conversation.

I learned a lot over those 5 weeks, and took some minor notes in each session-which I plan to write about here!

The first week was on fundraising-the lifeblood of an early start-up, I suppose. This topic also had one of the strongest and most engaging panels of the program too, as the speakers who came in were

  • Paul Finlay, CEO at Hiiker-a platform to help you find the best backpacking and hiking adventures
  • Senan O’Mahoney, Investment Associate at Atlantic Bridge Venture Capital
  • Charlie Butler, Co-CEO at Bounce Insights-a market research platform that would provide a direct link between brands and any consumer they needed to speak to

Here were some of my main takeaways from that night:

-Be mindful and empathetic when raising funds from venture capital firms. To them, it’s all a game of expected value, and so you should never take rejection personal. Senan himself said he had met over 500 entrepreneurs and start-up founders, and in that timeframe he only backed at most 20 ish.

-The absolute most important thing when asking for funds, is PREPARATION. Have your figures down at the back of your mind (although at the start it really doesn’t matter since everyone knows you’re just inflating numbers, but this will be talked about in the next point), have your market research and segment data completely down. Know the problem your solution is solving and why it will work. What other challenges will you face? Why won’t consumers use it though? What future, world-conquering goals does your company have?

-The thing is, according to Charlie, once you do get one venture capital firm to back you (a rough, gruelling, arduous process), it becomes much easier from there because everyone else flocks in. The thought process will usually be like:
“Oh wait, the lads at Elkstone are chipping in? Well, I mean they obviously must have done their research, so why not!”.
Of course I doubt it’s that simple, but that is one of the more humorous stories that was told that night.

-For the millionth time, do not waste your years in college, particularly with the opportunity to network. Ask to meet people over a cup of coffee. Branch out. This goes back to my talk with Kingsley Aikins, but it’s important to remember that as students, we can still provide value in the sense that we have newer and fresher experiences. There are people that are curious as to what a Trinity student might be up to, so have that ready in your toolbox.

-At the start up phase, the idea and the team behind the idea are the most important factors of the company. Later on, during the growth stage, figures WILL become more important. Which part of the start up is more important depends on the stage and context, but getting too rung up in figures at the start is never too good.

This was a really insightful panel discussion, and I remember being really excited for the next few ones.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far, I’ll be uploading the next talks’ insights soon!

Stay safe👋🏻

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