Jason Bradshaw, Partner, Corporate Finance
Bad. Not bad in the bad sense. Not someone doing something bad. But bad in that it’s not good. What happens to 80% of start-ups, particularly in tech, a specialist area of ours here at JPA Brenson Lawlor, is that they don’t get across the line. They fail. And that’s not good. As advisers to start-ups we hate to see them fail. That’s why I’ve put together this very brief, but honest and short reality checker. It’s meant to be harsh, because sometimes the truth can hurt.
I remember two hugely innovative Irish companies that were way head of their time. Probably twenty years ago there was one which, looking back, was pitching to Microsoft what appeared to be a cloud based service. I don’t think even the Microsoft executives understood what the concept was (Microsoft services are now cloud based). I certainly didn’t’. However, this revolutionary Irish company failed. A second, again way ahead of its time, used voice recognition as a security device to access bank accounts. It failed, as the required bandwidth and stability just didn’t exist. The tech was clever but ahead of its time. Get your timing right.
We don’t claim to be tech experts at JPA Brenson Lawlor, but we know the fundamentals of business. There’s no point setting up a skateboarding business in an old people’s home. That’s why our very first questions, if you come to us for business advice, will be what market your business addresses, who else is doing it and what’s different about yours? Sometimes it’s hard for entrepreneurs to admit that they missed the boat and their project, sweated over for two or three years, just isn’t working. We don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad tidings, but we do have a standard mantra, ‘the first cut is the cheapest’. If you feel it’s not going to work, then get out quickly.
So, you’ve crossed the first hurdles. You have a product or service that looks like people may want, it doesn’t appear to be like any other and it’s nearly ready to go. But. There’s always a but, isn’t there? Are you realistic in your plans as to how long it’ll take to raise €100,000 or a €1,000,000? Let me tell you, from my direct experience. Months. And months. And maybe then it’ll still only be a slow drip of money, adding more months. Meanwhile, you have to live, and it costs to live. Can you survive?
As in life, there are no guarantees. But talking is a good place to start to raise finance. Talk to us. We have successfully raised finance from sources including our own clients as well as the VC community. Each investor cohort has its likes and dislikes. We can share these with you. You can see already that we’re blunt, but in a kind kind of way. So, can we recommend the first thing to do is to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get that vital conversation going. Who knows, you may be the next Amazon (market cap as I write $600bn), who also started as just an idea.