Raising Capital in Burgeoning Markets with Kristy Willard

 
Source:    @kristywillard

In a previous #ThoughtImports post, we looked at navigating burgeoning markets with Susan Onigbinde, Founder of DODO Design Agency, a growing business based in Lagos. We loved Susan’s insights, and thought there was so much more to learn about the intricacies of starting, funding, and growing a business in a new market.

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We reached out to Kristy Willard, Senior Associate at I-DEV International, an investment advisory and consulting firm based in Nairobi that works exclusively with early stage business to help them scale and grow. Here’s a closer look at the technical aspects of raising capital and scaling a business in a burgeoning market.


What does I-DEV do and what was your role on the team?

How do we grow a small business in emerging markets? How can we help small businesses raise capital and find investment opportunities? These are the questions that I-DEV answers. Once we help the business become investment ready, we connect it with the right investor. In this way, we create value for both businesses and investors.

I helped connect small businesses with the right international and local investors and worked with senior management on their company growth strategies, from market entry to country expansion strategies.. Together we answered questions such as, “How do you take a product and launch it in Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa? How do you improve your supply chain?”

What inspires you?

I believe in helping small businesses grow. It is these small, incremental actions that will compound to develop an emerging economy. My personal belief is that any business that grows, expands, and hires more people adds value to an economy. Seeing that benefit and that engagement is what inspires me.

I believe in helping small businesses grow. It is these small, incremental actions that will compound to develop an emerging economy. My personal belief is that any business that grows, expands, and hires more people adds value to an economy. Seeing that benefit and that engagement is what inspires me.

What are the steps for a startup looking to raise capital?

The most important first step is to answer the question: “What is your growth strategy?” Here’s what should follow:

  1. Identify your growth strategy.

  2. Write down the top 5 steps you need to take to achieve that growth.

  3. Outline the timeline, assigning accountability for each step. The key here is to be very specific and actionable with these goals because they directly influence projections and assumptions in the financial model.

After having a clearly defined growth strategy, move into investor prep. These are the basic, high-level steps before meeting with an investor:  

  1. Create your financial model.

  2. Get your documents in order

  3. Put a 3-4 page teaser. The teaser should contain information about your growth strategy, founders, financials, how much money you are asking for, and what the money will be used for.

What marketing materials should a small startup always have on hand?

It is helpful to have documentation about who you are, what your story is, and where you hope to go. You need something tangible that gives a comprehensive an overview of the business.

What are some common mistakes that small businesses make?

Management, operations, and marketing are some functions that small businesses often lack. They are so focused on the technology and the product specifications that they let the business side wither.

For example, we worked with a business that built an extremely useful financial platform that does online foreign exchange transfers. But they didn’t know how to sell or market their product. It was such a shame because they didn’t know who to target as customers or how to position themselves. Management and business is crucial for an investor, as much as a good product.

Any other wisdom to share, for the entrepreneurial minded across the world?

I’ve heard this one piece of advice that I’ve seen hold true through all the businesses I’ve worked with: “Design a product that works for one person and then scale it from there”.

“Design a product that works for one person and then scale it from there”.

I’ve seen a lot of products that people try to make work a little bit for everyone. I’ve also see people taking products from other places and trying to plug them into this country. That doesn’t work. You need to understand the culture and the people in order to tailor a product to them.

What makes a pitch deck stand out?

I like pitch decks that are punchy, succinct, and have lots of pictures and logos. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.


The Takeaways on Navigating Burgeoning Markets

  1. The mentality of “if you build it they will come” is wrong. Kristy mentioned that founders don’t focus on building a scalable business with a strong management team, good operations, and fleshed out marketing strategy. Consumers have so much choice that what distinguishes one product from another is not the technology, but the business and the brand.

  2. Create a product that has a strong, vocal fan base. It’s okay if some people hate your product. It more important for a few people to love your product so much that they will be your biggest advocates and marketers. The worst thing you can do is build a mediocre product that no one hates but no one loves.


The Resources & Services for Your Growing Venture

For more resources and insights, subscribe to The Port newsletter. Need help with your brand strategy, scaling your business, or dealing with the challenges of growing in a burgeoning market? Reach out to us at the Port to help you with all your marketing and business growth needs. To learn how The Port can support your startup marketing efforts, get in touch with our team.

Comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a note in the comments below, or shoot us an email: sail@totheport.com.