Riversands Incubation Hub hosted a throng of entrepreneurs on Thursday 16 August 2018 for fundEX 2018. The conference, in media partnership with Thriving.Network, brought together a powerful mix of business owners and funding professionals. Guests ranged from government funders to commercial funders and equity investors, who participated in exhibitions, spirited networking, panel discussions and insightful presentations by guest speakers.
fundEX is best described as an event that seeks to enhance the progress of businesses by showcasing a myriad of funding opportunities and educating entrepreneurs on the often tedious process of attaining funding. Notable speakers included Andile Khumalo, former Chief Investment Officer of MSG Afrika and founder of I Am an Entrepreneur; Abu Cassim, Director of Jozi Angels; Andrew Maren, Managing Director and CEO of ProfitShare Partners and Inge Prins, CMO of Uprise.Africa. The educational and inspirational aspects of the conference were undeniable, with entrepreneurs in the audience fervently scribbling in their supplied notepads and absorbing every ounce of content.
Here are the most pertinent funding lessons learnt:
Have an answer for the question “What could go wrong and how would I fix it?”
In his charismatic keynote address, Andile Khumalo explained that funders are not interested in an overly optimistic candidate that underestimates the pitfalls of running a business. Instead, deliver an honest pitch that exhibits that you have been thoughtful and understand your business. It doesn’t necessarily imply pessimism, but rather, realism. Things are bound to go wrong here and there, that’s the nature of entrepreneurship. What funders really want to know is how you’ll recover and whether they can invest their funds into a business that is ready to handle its challenges.
Never compromise on your business model and values
Vije Vijendranath, Co-founder and CEO of Tapsnapp, said that funders will often want to ‘tweak’ the business model of the prospective recipients to better fit the mission of the funder. This is because funding essentially involves a partnership. “Move on and find an investor that suits your needs and values, rather than changing your whole idea for the sake of funding,” he said. There will always be something better.
Have skin in the game
This was a recurring topic among the presentations: investors want to see that a prospective recipient has invested their own funds into their business. The phrase ‘skin in the game’ refers to incurring risk by being involved in achieving a goal, so it shows that an entrepreneur is committed to his/her idea and believes in it. Nobody wants to invest in a business whose founder, of all people, is not committed.