5 funding tips from a veteran entrepreneur

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Startup Company Founding Tips

Entrepreneurs who have had successful exits have a unique perspective on early-stage companies and founders' dilemmas. Here are tips directly from the newly-exited source.

A few years ago I became acquainted with Veev, the spirits company, through Carter Reum (one of the founders) at his home nestled in the Hollywood Hills. After driving a mutual friend from the airport to his home, I remember leaving with two bottles of vodka and a variety of Acai seed bracelets. It was really good vodka.

Since that day, I noticed the brand everywhere - it was more surprising to not find Veev at an event then it was to find it, and having signature cocktails at few hot restaurants around Los Angeles - it was a phenomenon.

Cut to today, Veev has grown into one of the most well known vodka companies in the U.S. and founders Courtney and Carter Reum have been honored by Goldman Sachs and Inc.'s 500 Fastest Growing Companies and 30 Under 30 for their entrepreneurial journey.

Most recently, they have achieved every founder's dream - an acquisition - and are on to the next project, a fund called M13, that will focus on ideation, creation, and launch of startups. I had a chance to speak with Courtney Reum about this new venture and got some valuable advice to share with early-stage companies looking for investment - possibly even investment from him!

Between the Reum brothers, they have personal investments in companies such as SpaceX, Warby Parker, The Honest Co., Lyft and The Bouqs - so it's safe to say they know how to spot a winner. And the more insight the better when developing your fundraising strategy.

For so many of you, dear Inc. readers, raising money is on your immediate agenda. Even I am beginning to think about the funding strategy for my newest company, so it's important to keep these things at the top of your mind before you begin.

1. Everyone has an opinion

Years ago, a friend told me, "raising Angel money is more of an art than it is a science. If you ask five different Angels what they think about your idea, you are going to get five vastly different opinions." The higher up in the funding process the more it becomes numbers and strategy oriented.

In the early stages, you are selling an idea and yourself. You are answering the question, "are you the person who is going to execute this best?"

According to Courtney, the pitches they receive at M13 should have a mix the following to get his attention.

2. Identify two to three points of commonality

Surprisingly, many people still use the "spray and pray" method and abandon the idea of tactical pitching when they're rushing to get money. Spend the few extra minutes to read about the background of the investors you'd like to speak to. It shows.

"There is a fine line between annoying and pleasantly persisting," said Courtney. If you really know your audience and you've taken a moment to research what makes them interested in a product there is nothing wrong with following up and keeping them in the loop.

3. Cold emails are totally OK!

According to Reum, if he's the right guy for the product (and you'd know this if you did your research) there is nothing wrong with a cold email if you truly have no one in common. It's always better to get a warm intro, but don't let it discourage you if you can't.

4. How will you scale?

Reum looks for companies with semi-frictionless scaling. Meaning, have you thought through all of the ways you could scale (and what could possibly cause friction?). Have the answers - and if you don't, perhaps it could be time to re-evaluate.

RELATED: Inspirational movies for entrepreneurs

Inspirational movies for entrepreneurs
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5 funding tips from a veteran entrepreneur

The Social Network

Based on the true story of Facebook genius Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard classmates and co-founders, this movie shows us how one idea can go from a thought in casual conversation to a world-dominating platform.

This film also brings to light the drama and behind-the-scenes tensions that arise when setting out to begin a new business or venture. We learn through Zuckerberg's faults in the movie that you must stay cognizant of your actions and the way that you treat people, or you may damage relationships with those closest to you. 

Photo credit: Facebook


If this picture queues the iconic theme song to start playing in your head, you're not alone. Rocky is the ultimate underdog story, one that can inspire even the most experienced of entrepreneurs.

When being called up to fight world champion Apollo Creed, Rocky sees an opportunity and does everything he can to make the most of it.

Through physical strength, Rocky exemplifies true mental strength that has us all rooting for him and the people, quite literally, in his corner. 

Photo credit: Facebook

Jerry Maguire

In a classic awakening of the conscience, sports agent Jerry McGuire decides to write a letter to his entire company about how the hunger for deals and a profit are making it easy for everyone to lose sight of who they are.

This gets McGuire fired, and he must start his own business. With only one star football player under his management, McGuire learns what it really means to love what you do while still being able to sustain an income and sense of morality. 

Photo credit: Facebook

Forrest Gump

This classic has so much to teach us about believing in ourselves, believing in others, and how there is literally no one who can tell you what you're capable of doing other than yourself. 

As someone who's mentally disadvantaged, Forrest lives a life that's anything but limited and does it all with a smile. His determination is admirable, and at the very least, this movie will remind you to never give up on the things you want the most. Mental fortitude is the most important thing.

Photo credit: Facebook

Legally Blonde

Elle Woods is the girl you can't help but root for, right from the opening scene at the start of this movie. After getting her heart broken by her long-term boyfriend (whom she thought would soon be her fiancé), she learns that he'll be attending Harvard Law school in the fall.

Determined to both get him back and prove to him she's more than just a dumb blonde, Elle works harder than she's ever worked before (with the help of everyone she knows and loves), gets accepted to Harvard and finds herself on the defendant side of a high profile court case that forever changes her life and career.

Elle teaches us how to pool our resources and connections to get to our goals. The film also reminds us about how important friends and family are to have as a support system when you're taking on an endeavor that most people expect you to fail at.

Plus, she shows us that the seemingly impossible can become possible if you're willing to smile through it (and maybe if you put on a little pink!)

Photo credit: Facebook

Charlotte's Web

A classic tale of friendship and trust, Charlotte's Web will always inevitably give you all the feels. It reminds us all that by being kind and by simply being someone's friend, you can make all the difference.

The people who find the most success and get to where they need to be are the people who care deeply for others and expect nothing in return.

The film, as does the novel, can make anyone see that the relationships we build along the way become the best investments that we make.

Photo credit: Facebook

The Intern 

This 2015 movie starring Robert DiNero and Anne Hathaway is feel-good film about a 70-year-old retiree named Ben Whittaker who, recently widowed, is looking to come out of retirement for something fun to do. When he sees a posting for am"senior internship", Ben believes he's the perfect fit.

Ben works under the owner of a fashion website (played by Hathaway) and the two form an incredible, honest bond. Their friendship shows that the most successful partnerships and ventures come from the most unexpected places. 

It's a nice reminder that hard work, positive mentality and kindness will always be in style, no matter how old or young you are. 

Photo credit: Facebook


5. Don't confuse urgency with rushing

Many, many, many founders make this mistake early on. I'd be willing to bet that at least every first-time founder did this at one point before learning the cold hard lesson. According to Reum (and I agree 100%), "moving with a sense of urgency to build, scale and execute your plan is a necessity, but the moment you rush, you miss key insights and potentially the window of opportunity to pivot. Thoughtfulness is the key to success."

Overall, there are many parallels between pitching to new business, media and investors, the key is to remember who you are talking to and what is going to appeal to them, and them alone.

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