How I Did It is sponsored by Dundee Venture Capital in support of startups.
The truth is, I did it with a lot of help from other people.
I did it with a lot of help from my family. If you have a family that you love and are responsible for — then entrepreneurship is just going to be family sport because both partners must accept and the assume risk. I am fortunate that my significant other really embraced my situation. For my wife, I imagine it’s like being married to an aspiring Olympic athlete…someone who spends huge amounts of time and resources working really hard towards an achievement yet the odds are against ever making it to the olympics or earning a medal — because most don’t.
You really have to keep your head screwed on in the office and at home, and my wife helped me maintain that balance (I’d like to think) in the familial sense. My kids didn’t get a say in my life choices as an entrepreneur but they are going to be affected by it one way or there other. As a family we practiced empathy and they really helped me at home.
I did it with a lot of help from my team. We never would have had the opportunity to get in front of and persuade those who backed us without an amazing team. We’re like a team of entrepreneurs, everyone has taken risk, worked long hours, made sacrifices and contributed towards where we are today.
There isn’t a single entrepreneur out there who has done it on their own and this team was incredibly helpful. Our strategy was to identify our unique strengths and we really played to that while identifying potential investment partners and making pitches. Fundraising is a full time thing so we really tried to manage efficiently. Ultimately it was my lead but we worked smart together along the way sometimes trading off, sometimes tag teaming on pitches.
I did it with a lot of help from our customers. Every investor or fund will have their own focus and our product really spoke for itself, considering how visually oriented the technology and industry is. It was really helpful to get feedback from our customers, testimonials from our customers, revenue from our customers and really just let the product speak for itself. It’s hard to overstate how much our early customers mean to us.
They gave us their hard earned money and that gave us confidence we were moving in the right direction.
If you’re thinking as an entrepreneur you’re going to raise money in Minnesota without some sense of product supported by a business model, think again. It’s possible, though highly unlikely. How much product is needed? That’s going to vary depending on many factors, though you’re going to pay for it in the risk adjustment/valuation even if you are able to fundraise without a product or proven model.
You can do all the research and development in the world, but when you go out into the market, you find out quickly whether or not there’s a business opportunity
I did it with a lot of help from smart people in Minnesota’s tech community. The HCI + VR Meetup has been a great group that’s been into VR before it was cool. There are some great investors locally who genuinely want to help and want you to win. Even better if they are the same ones write you a check and join the cause.
I did it with a lot of passion, a lot of rejection, and a lot of meditation along the way.