Non-obvious fundraising suggestions from a Silicon Valley outsider

When it comes to office productiveness and communication apps, it may possibly usually really feel like Slack, Trello and Asana have the market cornered.

However Aydin Mirzaee noticed previous the crowded house. In his earlier work, Aydin usually discovered himself wishing for a greater suggestions and productiveness device — and one which catered particularly to folks managing a workforce. In 2017, he and his co-founders started engaged on Fellow, primarily based in Ottawa.

“Account managers have Salesforce,” Aydin says. “We didn’t see the equal device for managers of individuals, so we determined to construct Fellow.”

The thought clearly resonated: in June, Fellow landed Shopify as one in every of its first clients and closed $6.5 million in seed funding. Aydin supplied quite a lot of nice suggestions for fundraising throughout our interview. Beneath, I’ve gathered 4 items of actionable suggestions from this Canadian founder.

1. Dig the properly earlier than you’re thirsty 

Earlier than engaged on Fellow, Aydin had already began and offered his first software program firm, Fluidware. However there was one main distinction between Aydin’s first startup and Fellow: Fluidware was solely bootstrapped.
“As soon as we offered our first firm, I knew that in some unspecified time in the future there can be one other one,” Aydin says. “So I needed to construct up my community from scratch, realizing that sometime it was going to be helpful.”
With the potential for making a venture-backed startup on the horizon, Aydin attended VC occasions and messaged enterprise corporations, introducing himself and asking in the event that they have been open to conferences or in the event that they have been internet hosting any occasions within the close to future.

It’s like that proverb: dig the properly earlier than you’re thirsty.

“Begin now,” he says. “Go to VC-sponsored occasions, construct up that community, and supply to advise firms of their portfolios.”
The secret is to create these relationships and supply worth lengthy earlier than you’re making any asks of them. Not solely will VCs get to know you and worth your experience, however you’ll additionally get a way of which companions you actually get pleasure from spending time with — which is much more necessary in the long term.

2. Use the ‘caller ID take a look at’

Inovia Capital led Fellow’s seed spherical. The corporate additionally received investments from Felicis Ventures, Storage Capital and several other angels. How did Aydin select his seed traders? He selected the companions who he aligned with finest.

“It’s not the agency that issues,” Aydin says. “What actually issues is who the associate is.”

And relating to selecting a VC associate, Aydin recommends asking your self a extremely easy query to determine should you’re working with the suitable one: “Are you excited when your telephone rings and also you see that particular person’s title on the caller ID?”

If that’s the case, nice. If you happen to really feel anxiousness or dread, nevertheless, chances are you’ll be higher off with a distinct investor. For Aydin, selecting Inovia as a lead investor was a pure match since he’d identified Karamdeep Nijjar for almost 4 years after they first met within the startup house (turns on the market actually is one thing to the ‘dig the properly earlier than you’re thirsty’ factor).

“I all the time had a lot enjoyable speaking and dealing with Karam that it was identical to, ‘Oh, that is simply one other excuse for me to speak to you on a regular basis,’” Aydin says.

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