Diary of a start-up: Presentations, partnerships, and meeting with investors
After a busy month, first-time entrepreneur David George shares his progress and a sharp lesson on depth over breadth when it comes to presenting financials to investors
It’s been a busy, but extremely productive month, this month, building relationships and just generally generating exposure for the Bikmo brand in preparation for our upcoming full launch.
First on the agenda was a big, nerve-wracking presentation.
Preparing for a big presentation
Presentation; check. VGA convertor for Mac; check. Fuel, shoes, notebook, charged phone, charger; check.
I forget stuff, always have, so I need a checklist to make sure nothing gets left behind. When it’s the biggest presentation you’ve ever done and it’s a key partner you’ve been working on for some time, you make doubly sure you have everything in place.
It also helps if you’re in the right place, at the right time. The call from Mark (who I was presenting to) at 1.50pm asking where I was did not help my nerves. He was expecting us at 2pm, I thought we were meeting at 2.30pm, but somehow it had got lost in translation in Google Calendar. Bugger. Luckily we were round the corner so necked our coffees and went for it.
I had spent a lot of the new year holed up in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland the previous week, practicing and planning the presentation. I’d been nervous, especially as I had presented badly 12 months before in front of an investment company and didn’t want the same to happen again.
However, I needn’t have worried. The presentation went great – the group listened attentively and asked lots of questions which were well responded to by my team. We talked about Bikmo’s progress, and live demoed the site and it worked a treat. Tip for you techies – only live demo if you’re 100% sure it’ll work perfectly – anything less can knock confidence and change decisions.
Networking with contacts
The London Bike Show in February was a good chance to catch up with many of the contacts I’d developed over the past six months without having to travel the length and breadth of the country.
Last year I found that the only way to get partnerships started, or requests for data completed, was to meet people face to face. As much as I love Skype, when someone can’t run away (that did happen once during an amateur spot of journalism with a pro cyclist!), it’s easier to gain their trust, confidence and (hopefully) business in person.
The show was also the launch of the Starley Primal Pro Racing Team, or for us, the launch of the video we’d created for them in return for brand placement and management of the content on the Bikmo website. The spike in traffic on the day and for the next week showed it was a good investment of time and effort.
Growing our team
Bikmo is growing. Upon winning our first investment in March 2013, I got our lead developer, Jorj, on board and he’s awesome at what he does, but he’s been straining with the amount of development our increasingly technical platform requires. It was time to grow the team. Enter Gavin.
Gavin started developing when he was 12, left school at 16 and though he’s now only 21, he’s got more technical ability and creativity than some developers I’ve interviewed twice his age. Gavin is the perfect complement to Jorj and they’re working like fury to get the Bike Builder ready for the spring cycling season. Watch this space…
Sharing financials with investors
My first annual meeting took place in February and it was something of a learning experience. I work very closely with a couple of my investors, and less so with others, so took the meeting to be a presentation of our current prospects, much akin to how I’d presented to potential partners. It looked great but lacked the depth of information around our financials and accounting, which I soon found out was expected at the meeting. It‘s not that the data wasn’t there, I just hadn’t prepared for it so couldn’t knowledgably reel off the figures.
However, the outcome was great. The investors have bought in to Bikmo and support us. After discussing our figures and plans further and recognising my weaknesses; I now realise I can call on them to support me when I need their expertise. Turns out one of our key investors (and a very successful businessman) is also chartered accountant; win!
By the time of the next diary, we’ll be ready for a full launch, both in the UK and US markets and you’ll hopefully have seen a lot more of Bikmo in the UK press.