You pick up a paperback, glance at the title and the cover, and then what? You'll probably flip it over and start reading the back, perusing through the summary and reviews to get a gist of what this story is all about before you even think of taking out your wallet.
The Basics of your business profile is the back of that book.
This is where you need to convince investors your story is one worth exploring. Keep flipping through those pages—or in this case, keep scrolling!
But that's easier said than done, so let's take it step by step.
Describe your business in 4-10 words. Investors should understand what you are and what you're doing. Also, (we're guilty of this) avoid using trite comparisons such as "Uber for plants" or "Uber for calendars." Trust us, you’re not the first one to think of it and investors get tired of listening to the same pitch repeatedly.
Example: Emberlight, Turn any light into a smart light.
Example: Checkr, Automated background screenings and driving records.
In a paragraph, explain what your business does in simple, straightforward language and eliminate buzzwords such as "revolutionize" and "disrupt." Be specific about the problem you’re solving and how you’re solving it.
Test your writing by reading it out loud. Make sure you’re using language you’d actually use in a conversation.
Example: Lawn Love is a network of the best lawn care companies combined under one consumer facing brand. Our platform gives customers instant, accurate quotes online without an on-site visit, and routing efficiencies help companies make more money while customers pay the same. Payment and scheduling are automated, and customers can manage everything from their phones.
Example: Freight Farms manufactures fully-operational hydroponic farms from upcycled freight containers. Using advanced growing technologies and human-centered design principles, we provide individuals of all skill levels with the infrastructure to immediately begin producing a high-volume of locally grown food.
This is 1 to 2 paragraphs digging into the "so what" of your business. You're answering three main questions for investors: why is it a big deal, why should I care, and what is your vision?
Also take this chance to lay the groundwork of the industry you’re in—investors coming onto this page might know nothing about it.
Example: Chronos, Watch companies know they need to make their products smart, but lack the expertise to do so. The largest US watch manufacturers are already exploring partnerships with Chronos in advance of their big launch this coming spring. By leveraging the design expertise and distribution of major watch brands, Chronos has a chance to power more wearables than any other consumer brand in the market.
Top rated on Yelp? Kept 95% of customers over the last year? Built the world's smallest violin? Excite investors with your businesses' proudest numbers and most revealing accomplishments. Investors want to know how fast you’re growing and how you’re dominating the market.
Remember these are essentially bullet points. Keep them punchy.
Example: Valet Anywhere
Websites are crucial. Don't have one? Get Squarespace or Weebly and start showing off your business to the world wide web.
Social media accounts are also powerful ways to illustrate your business' personality, values, and customer relations. Remember: investors aren't just investing in your business, they're investing in you. They want to know as much about you as they can and genuine social media posts go a long way in showcasing who you are.
Got a pitch deck or a business plan? Attach longer documents for investors who want more details about your pitch. A solid pitch deck that hits the right points with the right visuals is much more effective (and fun) than a business plan.
Good, now write them again.
Clearly explaining the problem you're solving and how you're solving it is tough. We recommend going over your Basics several times, continuously pruning
all the unnecessary words. Afterall, for “What We Do” and “Our Ambition” you have a limit of 500 characters.
Investors are busy. If you can't capture their attention with compelling information in a short period of time, they'll just move to the next company vying for a chunk of their wallet.
When you think you're done with the Basics, ask yourself: if I were an investor, would I keep reading?
Anyone can have a good idea. True power lies in having the people that can turn that idea into reality. Investors want to know if your team has what it takes to go from idea to product to domination. Convince investors that if there’s anyone who’s going to achieve what you plan on doing, it’s your team and no one else.
Remember the last time you interviewed for a job, the last time you were the one in the hotseat. Take that experience and shrink it down to the ‘Founder’ portion of your profile.
Your photo should show off who you are, balancing professionalism with the personality of your business. Your bio should be the most important parts of your resume shrunk into two sentences or less.
First step is to invite team members and investors, which you can do under the 'Team' tab. When you invite a member, Wefunder will send them an email to sign up and confirm their role.
You then have a choice to add their info yourself or let them take care of it. Regardless of which option you choose, all members should have a photo and brief description of what they do at your business.
Before investors choose to commit themselves to your startup, they'll want to know who else is coming to the party. And like a party, you want investors to know all the cool kids are coming. Reveal any prominent previous investors and new investors will feel safer about handing you their money.
Graduating from elite schools or success in previous ventures is important information, but the big winner is always a good story. If you have a unique tale behind your startup, shout it from the rooftops—or just right here on your profile. Investors have mad respect for Founders (and so do we!) who hustle and do whatever it takes to get their business going.
These guys travelled across the country in a van, hitting up theater owners personally in order to pitch their business. They slept in the back of their cars and took showers at 24 hour fitness. Now, that's hustling!
Investors should leave the 'Team' portion with more information than a resumé. Sure, they want to know your qualifications, but they also want to know your drive. Let investors peer into heart of your business, and assure them that not only are you skilled, you're damn well passionate.
Investors browse Wefunder with two main motives 1) to find something that speaks to them personally and 2) to find the next big thing. And the one way to determine whether your business speaks to either of those criteria is to show off what you’re working on.
We'll break Design into two sections. First, we’ll go through the three main elements of imagery you’ll be using on Wefunder: the Banner, the Card, and the Graphics. Second, we’ll go over the basics of what makes a great image. Let’s go!
Banner images should be both compelling and revealing. Remember the banner has a 2000:800 aspect ratio and to avoid images that scream stock photo.
You can also add a video to your banner which you should absolutely do if you have a high quality clip. If you don't have a high-quality video, you should let text and photos do the talking for you instead—a poor video can actually harm your campaign with a bad first impression.
Example: Valet Anywhere
The Valet Anywhere banner contains action to one side, creating negative space on the other which is ideal for text. The strong contrast, with shadow on the left and sunshine on the right, is pleasing to the eye. The man in the photo is also wearing company apparel which is definitely a bonus for branding!
Your Card is the first thing investors will see when they’re browsing through Wefunder. It will determine whether any investor decides to view your business at all. There are three elements that determine the success of your card: image, tagline, and milestones. Let’s focus on the image.
You want to give investors a broad idea of the product you’re providing. If you’re building an app, show someone using that app in the particular situation it's needed. If you’re building a toy, use an image that showcases that toy alone.
Both Chronos and Emberlight use their Card photo to embody a single subject. For Chronos, watches, and for Emberlight, light bulbs. So the viewer knows both companies have something generally to do with those ideas. The eye then moves downwards and the tagline reveals exactly what is so special about this particular watch and light bulb.
At the bottom of the Design tab, you’ll find an option to “Add Another Section.” This will allow you to add product photos and videos, upload graphs or publish numbers, or custom code an image yourself.
This is the meat of your profile. You need to convince investors you can execute fast and effectively. Show off growth, revenue, customer retention, etc.—investors want concrete evidence.
Whether it’s a photo or an illustration, you need negative space. The eye wants it. Negative space draws the viewer’s attention to the most important object. Avoid clutter and use images to convey one strong idea rather than several weak ones.
A Good Example: Toymail
Let’s take a look at this effective (and very adorable) photo. The subject of attention is placed on the far right, creating plenty of negative space to the left. It allows the eye to concentrate on a single, important idea: this girl’s relationship with her toys. Her black outfit over the off-white background also creates a strong contrast which makes her pop out.
This is a good example of creating negative space, using contrast, and keeping it simple without sacrificing personality!
A Bad Example:
This is a photo we took at one our Wednesday dinners. There’s quite a few issues here. First, I have no idea where I’m supposed to be looking at. The food? The guests? The chef? Second, the filter overly saturates the photo and instead of a clear, crisp subject, everything is hazy and melts together.
Don’t make the same mistake we did! Opt for single subject photos with a sharp contrast that draws the eye.
This might seem obvious, but sometimes using mid to low resolution images can be tempting to get the job over with. Don’t underestimate the power of imagery! It's 2016. No one wants to look at a blurry photo or watch a 480p video, when HD is everywhere. Investors have no qualms about skipping over your profile if you haven’t taken the time to find or create high quality photos and videos.
When it comes to product photos, the more the better. If you run a restaurant, use images or videos to seat your investor at the table, show them the menu, tantalize them with the first course. Put investors as close to your product as possible, whatever it may be.
This can be difficult for certain companies, such as SaaS businesses, who don't have physical products. In these scenarios, we recommend to instead showcase a) product screenshots or b) use illustrations.
Example 1: Automate Ads
Automate Ads is a SaaS company that allows businesses to, well, automate ads. Because they don’t have a product you can hold in your hands, they opted to illustrate what they do: they make automating ads so easy, all you have to do is press a button.
Example 2 : Flaviar
The winning aspect of this photo is its straightforwardness. One look and you have the gist of what Flaviar’s product is—a box with a variety of alcohol samples. Your eye doesn’t have to do any digging or make any inferences. The viewer immediately knows that if they order from Flaviar, this is what to expect.
The KISS principle was coined by the US Navy in the 1960s, and it means exactly what it sounds like. Avoid complexity. Simple is best. Being straightforward in both language and design allows you to communicate with a diverse audience. Rely on universal concepts and basic language to convey unique, specific ideas.
Who's talking about you and what are they saying? Investors want to know if a) your business is credible enough to garner media attention and b) how do you deal with being in the limelight? The Press and Quotes tab is your opportunity to showcase what people love about what you're doing.
All you have to do is copy and paste the article link. You can then edit the press snippet by adding an image and select quote. For the image, use the source's logo. That way, investors can easily recognize media outlets at a glance.
You can either input a quote you already have, or request one. You'll need the person's name, title (are they a loyal customer or an elite investor?) and of course the quote itself. Keep quotes to 1 to 3 sentences long and link websites whenever you can to prove credibility.
Press and testimonials are critical. The key to a successful business is having a product that people love and press and quotes is how you prove to investors you're doing just that.
If you've managed to get a potential investor to read this far into the profile, congratulations! You've passed the highest hurdle.
But you're not home free quite yet.
The Q&A dives deeper into the heart and mechanics of your business, giving investors a peek into your motives, reasoning, and long-term plans. It's not an exaggeration to say the FAQ can make-or-break an investment.
In the Q&A tab you'll find our recommended questions, which you should definitely answer. But you'll need to anticipate questions investors may have, not only about your business, but about the market you're tackling.
For instance, if you own a café in Seattle, investors want to know what does success look like for you in particular? What are your greatest obstacles in opening up a second brick-and-mortar location? What's unique about running a coffee shop in Seattle rather than New York City?
Cover previous experience that reveals mastery of the problem at hand.
The Q&A will definitely be longer than anything else you'll write for the profile, but no one wants to confront a wall of text. Continue to hit key points in as few words as possible without sacrificing valuable information.
Keep it simple but don't lose the personality!
Here's a look into how we produce the Q&A sections of our Startup-of-the-Week profiles. We start with a recorded 45 minute phone (or Skype) interview with the CEO. We send the audio file to get transcribed (we use JotEngine) and get the full transcript after about two days.
We then rewrite and redact the entire transcript, cutting over 75% of the original interview. Afterwards, we send it back to the CEO for approval and then publish!
Investors know there are risks and challenges. Don’t cherry-pick your questions to glamorize your business. Good founders and owners know there are holes and address those holes. Ask and answer the hardest questions.
If done well, you will have anticipated and clarified potential questions and proved just how strong a hold you have of the market you're charging into.
Funding and Misc. are the last two tabs in the profile editor. Both are straightforward and are supplementary to your profile rather than critical. But take some time to review both tabs and make any changes you find necessary.
If this is the first time you’ve fundraised or you’re unfamiliar with early stage fundraising, we’re here to help. You can contact us with any questions about fundraising at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclose any prior funding you may have had before Wefunder here. Investors will then be able to view this information on your profile if they choose to.
Previous funding makes potential investors more comfortable with investing in your business—think of the safety in numbers mentality. Seeing prior funding will also help investors determine whether or not you've used funding appropriately and whether your have many early believers.
You've finished your profile! Good work 👍
You're just about ready to start raising money, but before you do, remember to review your profile several times. Check for clear, concise language and full-proof your profile by having everyone from your employees to your mom check it over. When you think you're ready, it's time to publish!
Privacy: We won’t share your data, or post to your wall, without your permission.
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