Co-founder, Women's Startup Lab, Milagro Marketing, and Pulse Music SF; VP of Content, Milsal & Partners. Written for Healthline.com, Narrative Magazine, Exquisite Corpse and more.
I'm a cross-industry professional with experience in everything from indie music management to tech startup to women's unique business challenges. Launch & early stage are where I give the most valuable help. Expect me to advise you on market analysis & entry, brand refinement & communication, team members & internal growth. My advising practice has been described as "business therapy with real outcomes."
You're already hearing the short answer: there is no answer. If you want to talk about the best stage for YOUR startup to seek funding, I'd be interested to learn more. Meanwhile, some things to think about:
-What are you really trying to fund? Internal growth? Product development? Team? Marketing? If you're hurting for money, where is your biggest hurt? And from there, what can you do to support your startup without outside funding?
-Try thinking against funding. What can you cut? What can you focus more tightly on so you can reduce expense elsewhere.
-And more anti-funding: What can you sell now? What is viable, ready to ship, or even ready to consult on? What wisdom have you gained in your development so far that you can turn to use?
-Don't forget: seeking funding is a full-time job. Are you ready to add *another* full-time job to your startup regime?
-Though it depends somewhat on the kind of funding you intend to seek, keep in mind that a typical funding relationship lasts seven years. Rather than asking the best stage, ask yourself if you're ready for that much of a long-term relationship.
I've organized lots of speaker events from near-scratch and brought in committed, interesting and very high-profile speakers (and performers) to what you'd think would be very low-profile events (since I've worked mostly in early-stage).
Here's the secret: They love speaking.
That inside information should embolden you to approach them, since you're asking them to do one of their favorite things.
Another way to say this is to think of this not at all as a difficult problem, or a hill to climb, but as a favor you're extending the prospective speaker.
I'm going to assume you know what you're doing and have thoughtfully aligned your brand and themes with the speakers you want.
And of course, you can call me if you want to discuss further. :-)
I'm so excited for you! Build that puppy. Then build another and another. And keep me -- nay, us -- posted on all of them.
I am so excited about your venture! Congratulations. If I can be useful to you, let me know. I advised fashion and socially conscious, women-led endeavors while helping found Women's Startup Lab in Menlo Park.
The brief answer is you will not regret allying your brand with women's business groups. Growth may be slower than launching into market directly, but your risk will also be somewhat more diverse. And you will get feedback at scale.
I would love to hear more about your goals and progress. Let's definitely talk!
I bet you already know what you have to do: fire her.
Although I like how Kelli says it-- help her find a better fit -- if you're really appropriately focused on your own work, you won't be helping anyone who's not helping you, so firing her and *suggesting* she find a better fit seems more accurate to me.
And I congratulate your insight -- you seem clear that it's not about job skills or diligence. And you're identifying how critical culture is to your success.
You made the wrong choice. Forgive yourself, cut loose, and hire differently (like hiring on a paid trial, as is suggested here) next time.
Lee Greenwood, thanks for a brave answer. Asker, I am sorry you are living in such dire circumstances, and I applaud your raising your voice to a broader community.
I can, in only a small way, relate to the circumstance of environment you describe: my sons are black, which means they face potential discrimination and violence whenever they leave the house. But it sounds like you are deep inside several circles of threat supported by layers of institutions.
You say depression is setting in, and I am not surprised. Depression's super-power is to overwhelm -- the best way to fight it is the chip away at it daily. You are doing so when you reach out to people on Clarity and elsewhere. How can you apply your talents to keeping channels open so your voice and the voices of your colleagues can continue to be heard? What forums and platforms can you commit to communicating on on a regular basis, so we know you are still with us?
You're already nearly home if you know what you like. For process, I'd recommend running your posting wherever you want (Craigslist, freelancewriting.com, indeed.com) and soliciting test copy *in a contest.* I've done this quite successfully with designers. You will feel better about offering something in exchange for the work and you'll get a greater range of talent, since seasoned oldsters and brand newbies both like contests. I have used Submittable.com for contest submissions. Call me if you want me to lay out further or if you would like help with submissions.
I'm with Janice on this one -- what is your idea of failure? And most importantly, why do you ask? I bet you've got an interesting reason. Call me if you want to discuss.