You may have read it on Tech.eu (the biggest EU Startup blog), Gründerszene (the biggest German startup magazine) or in Maddyness (the biggest French Startup magazine) yesterday: Yes, we raised our first seed fundraising to become ‘the next TechCrunch’ for Biotech!
The 6-figure seed round was raised with our lead investor WestTech Ventures as well as 4 European business angels (Sven Fund, Bertrand Landel, Simon Bungers, Michel Lurquin), and the company Adveris.
This is obviously a significative milestone for the development of our startup.
This round of capital was raised to support Labiotech.eu’s growth in its objective of becoming the leading Biotech media in Europe. It will give our start-up more resources to publish high-quality content, develop new content formats and organise our first conference Labiotech Refresh.
Now, I would like to get back on how we raised this fundraising…
Step 1: Structuring our vision
We started working full-time on Labiotech in September 2014. The first months were basically about trying to know where we were heading, getting some traction, some management experience and start to power up.
Then in April 2015, we started to work on the fundraising. At that time, we already merged our French blog (Labiotech.fr) into Labiotech.eu, starting publishing more content (15 per week instead of 5) and had 5000 unique visitors per months (which is small for Internet standards, even within the Biotech niche).
One of our biggest resources was our complementary funding team (Joachim and I have been working together for over 3 years) and our youth vision on how to build a leading digital media for Biotech.
Step 2: The Pitch Deck
Having a vision is great, but we had to structure it, synthesise it and have it ready in a presentable form.
The basic documents to raise some money by investors is a pitch deck (10 slides on your startup) and a financial plan. Good thing, nobody wants a 50-pages business plan anymore.
We were lucky to receive the help of Christophe Testu, a former MBA student of the Copenhagen Business School. He worked with us during the fundraising to challenge us, to get all the things in our mind on to the paper and to make it sexy!
Step 3: Get in touch with the right people
That’s where it started to become more difficult.
Raising money is all about having the right network or being introduced to the right people.
One crucial person in the fundraising is the middleman. It’s the guy who is not investor himself, but could introduce you to someone with money.
Luckily, with Joachim, have networked like crazy since starting this adventure. We had contacts in France, US, UK and in Germany (in part through the Labiotech Tour). We made a list of potentially helpful people (over 100) and contacted them all on a one-on-one basis with our pitch deck. We had a skype with most of them to convince them first before they could recommend us (for real, not just with a random email) to a potential investor.
It takes time and it’s not really scalable, but it definitely delivered results – and is how we got in touch with all our investors!
We also considered crowdfunding but we though it didn’t make sense for us. We also tried business angels clubs but those were terribly slow to answer (you can count around 4 months to receive a straight ‘no’ by mail).
Step 4: Negotiate
This part can sound difficult but it’s actuality easier than it appears.
Obviously, it’s always hard to get good conditions as a first-time founder. How it works is that you basically have a rough idea of your valuation, how much money you need/want and how much percentage of your company you want to give up (usually between 15-25%).
You try to come up with a realistic figure…and then discuss it with the investor.
Where it becomes tricky is that valuation of a very early stage startup without revenues and nearly no traction is almost impossible.
You can only have a rough guess and it’s more about the feeling you have for the team and for the market. Fortunately, we achieved a lot during this first year and the Biotech market is crazy hot right now (x2 revenues in the last 5 years) giving us a nice background to negotiate.
Ultimately, you get all the investors to agree on a term sheet, which is a one-page document with the main legal points (valuation, amount invested, vesting, seats on the board, control, exits etc.).
Step 5: Clear all the legal aspects
At the end of step 5, we basically had our 6 investors who signed the term sheet. But a term sheet is not legally binding. So the next step (and less funny, in my opinion), is to properly make all the legal documents.
Luckily, we found an awesome lawyer (I actually didn’t know such good lawyers exist as I always hear founders complaining about it). He helped us making all the documents, such as the 80 pages shareholder agreement!
This step is important as it defines the legal structure of your company and your collaboration with your investors. A bad piece of work at this phase can hurt your business further down the line.
Step 6: Bring your nicest pen for the signature!
That’s the easiest step. You just have to take an appointment at the Notary and meet there with all your investors.
We had our first appointment at the Notary end of December, just before Christmas holidays (very usual date to close before the end of the year). Of course, something went wrong. One paper coming from Switzerland never arrived (thanks Swiss post!)…
We finally received it mid-January and I went to the Notary to make the last and final signature (Ahhhh the best signature of my life so far).
Long story short, this is how we raised our first seed round. We worked extremely hard on it and we finally got what we were looking for. We are extremely proud of the investors joining in this round and we are looking forward to (carefullly) use these additional resources to continue to grow – and hopefully be soon the next TechCrunch for Biotech!
P.S. But first, we have to celebrate this fundraising. On the 11th of February, we will have a party at our office. If you’re in Berlin, feel free to reach out and I will add you to the attendee list 😉