Oodles.com founder Steve Sherlock has set himself the goal of raising a multimillion dollar Series A funding round by early 2010. He is documenting his trials and tribulations and seeking feedback from readers on AnthillOnline.com. This is the tenth post in his series.
Week 10: Naked Bungie Jumping
The capital-raising process can be an emotional roller-coaster ride and I’ve found it challenging at times over the past couple of months to keep myself motivated and my team focused.
That’s especially true now, when we have a couple of potential suitors considering the company, which means in some ways the process is in a state of limbo.
If ever my optimism or motivation wains slightly, I try to picture it all working out in the end, just as planned. And if that doesn’t work, I just imagine how lucky I am not to have to get up each morning and do something really challenging, such as naked bungie jumping. Suddenly, seeking capital, staying motivated, etc., seems relatively simple, not to mention a lot less embarrassing.
Another good way I’ve found to keep my mind focused and engaged is to stay abreast of industry developments and contribute to blogs, forums, etc. Wotif.com’s recent launch of Wotflight.com for example gave me the opportunity to share my opinion on the venture (my review), and reflect on the potential impact of the company moving into to the cars space.
I also accept invitations to speak at travel industry conferences — such as Eyefortravel Singapore and the Australia Aviation Summit — about innovation and differentiated business models. This gives me the opportunity to sit alongside some of the world’s biggest and most successful travel companies, and I enjoy the chance to speak as an entrepreneur and travel professional (toastmasters training was useful after all). These events also help build Oodles’ profile and provide a level of credibility that potential investors can see first hand.
They also keep my adrenaline going and force me to keep thinking about our overall strategy for successfully executing and realising our plans once we have secured funding.
Ensuring the people around me stay focused is not always so easy.
We have a small full-time team plus half-a-dozen outsourced professionals and I try to keep everyone up to date. Sometimes, however, I wonder if I communicate so much it’s actually detrimental.
One of our staff members recently resigned, and she admitted her move was at least partially influenced by concerns about job security. Given I’ve been very open about talking to potential investors based in Europe, the US and other parts of Australia, she was a bit worried that Oodles would re-locate post investment. It was a reasonable concern because there is a good chance the business will relocate if it makes sense, and I’ve tried to be completely transparent about that.
I guess it’s about finding the right balance.
I’m currently tackling the same awkward issue in relation to communicating with potential investors — i.e. what is the right amount of contact to ensure a lead doesn’t go cold but that you don’t look like your dagging them?
I think I’m pretty patient because I appreciate that potential investors are often busy running their own companies and the key issue can be timing. Plus it’s not that we are necessarily in a hurry; it’s simply that I’m chomping at the bit to start executing our post-funding strategy.
This week I decided to follow up one potential investor and received confirmation that the company remains interested but it is in the middle of a major project and needs more time.
I’m glad I contacted them because the fact that they are still considering investment is encouraging but I started thinking about how it would sometimes be easier to receive ‘no’ and just move on.
It wasn’t long before I found myself contemplating another naked bungie jump.