Insights

7 Simple Tips To Win The Funding Your Business Needs

Thursday 5 January 2023

Here at EHE, we work with entrepreneurs and investors – supporting them as needed, including with securing funding.

In our most recent episode of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together, we heard from David Agar and EHE director Elliot Smith – during their conversation, David shared a few of the key components of his business as he prepares to go for investment..

David is the CEO and Founder of BankAbility, a banking app aimed at helping society's most vulnerable people who may otherwise struggle to use traditional banking services. Here at EHE, we have been helping David get ready for funding

Elliot: “We get hundreds of pitch decks and opportunities on a regular basis – David’s stood out to me from the first page. There were two things that impressed me: the people and the fact that, for a seed-stage business, David was quite well-prepared.”

In  this blog post, we are going to look at what it is about BankAbility that impressed Elliot so much.

1: Have an established founder

Having an experienced and established founder behind the wheel of any venture is an invaluable resource – their expertise helps steer the project towards success and avoid any issues or traps along the way.

This means that a successful pitch deck needs to demonstrate the founder’s expertise, sector knowledge, previous experience, and any other aspects which make the founder stand out from the competition.

David certainly is experienced! As he puts it:

David: “BankAbility is my fifth venture – I've been a founder for over 30 years now across a number of different businesses. Of the other four, two were my own ventures – the other two, I was put in there to run them for other investors. 

I’ve certainly learnt a lot over the years, but every day is still a learning experience.”

2. Have an effective team structure

A business needs more than just its founder – it needs a well-rounded group of people who can patch up gaps in ability, expertise, and experience. 

This is one of the points about BankAbility which impressed Elliot – David demonstrated that he had been identifying and covering gaps in his management team from the very beginning.

David: “I've got a closely-knit senior leadership team of myself and three others. We’ve all got a good rapport and we understand each other. I have worked with each of them before, sometimes in multiple businesses. Most importantly, I know how committed they are to making this a success and getting it across the line.

In addition to that, I've managed to build a really interesting board of advisers over the last two years. These advisers come from many sectors and disciplines – from compliance and regulatory, through to finance, ESG and marketing. Their help and wise counsel has been really, really helpful to us. 

Finally, we're just starting to build a disability steering committee, which will help to guide us and provide us with some strategic direction in terms of where our development should go.”

3. Present a powerful solution to a real problem

It is important to be able to share a clearly defined and articulated purpose for your product as well as a strong point of differentiation. This shows that there is a clear market for what you are looking to sell.

It also shows that you have done the planning required to properly understand the problem you are trying to solve and that you understand both what makes you different and why people should care about your business.

BankAbility occupies a particularly motivating niche as it is a social impact venture – it aims to provide digital accessibility for the millions of people in the UK and overseas who may struggle to use existing banking apps and technology simply because they have a disability. 

David: “Part of my motivation is that my son, who recently turned 18, happens to be both dyslexic and autistic. As an exercise, I asked him to see if he could open a bank account online and he couldn’t. 

Bank apps are not necessarily optimised towards supporting people with accessibility challenges – the outcome of which is that people get financially excluded from the system. This can lead to frustration, mental health issues, and so on. 

Open banking is a wonderful thing – one day, I had the idea ‘why don’t we let the tech do the heavy lifting and make things more accessible and easier to use for those who are otherwise being excluded?’”

This is a really engaging niche – those with neurological, sensory, or physical differences might struggle to use the digital apps which people generally take for granted. It is hard to realise that something could be challenging if you personally don’t find it difficult to do.

In banking apps, the act of opening and maintaining an account or the day-to-day maintenance of your finances can be difficult for disabled people or other demographics who would benefit from increased accessibility. BankAbility enables these people to interact with their banks digitally – a valuable ability in a world where your closest bank branch might be 20-30 miles away.

4. Be clear as to what stage your product is at

The more you can demonstrate that your product exists and functions, the more interesting it will be to potential investors. There are two useful stages to track here: 

    • Proof of Concept (PoC) – This is simply evidence that the product itself is feasible. This is purely about whether the product itself is something that can be made, rather than profitable or marketable – that is a later stage.

    • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – At this stage, you have developed your product to the point at which it has enough features to attract early customers whose feedback can allow you to optimise and focus the development process.

BankAbility can demonstrate evidence of either having completed or of having a concrete strategy for both of these stages:

David: “We’ve completed our proof of concept – we were successful in getting a grant from Innovate UK to do that. Since then, we are ready to build our MVP – we just need the funding to support it.

Once we get that funding in place, we’ll be ready to beta launch within six months. We are already building partnerships with leading disability charities who recognise that BankAbility will be of great benefit to the communities they represent. 

A number of them are happy to introduce their users to our testing programme – which will take place during development to ensure that the feedback we get and the lessons we learn from it can be incorporated into the design.”

5. Build relationships with stakeholders and customer groups

Being able to present investors with a product that already has interest makes it a safer prospect. David already describes BankAbility’s connection with leading disability charities, it also has received interest from banks.

David: “We have certainly got one major bank that we are in discussions with at the moment. The first point they wanted to get across when we first met with them was that they are interested in the outcome for the customer – they were not so bothered about exclusivity for their bank.

We have also had interest from some big global names based in the US with footprints in 30+ countries and markets, who are motivated by the ESG aspect of what we are doing.”

6. Have a clear commercialisation strategy

Ultimately, what investors are looking for is a return on their investment – a good pitch needs to demonstrate how the product will make money.

David: “The MVP is going to be built as a direct-to-consumer product so we can onboard as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. The commercial model will be freemium.

You will be able to access all of your existing accounts or transactions for free. If you wish to make payments, our intention is to charge five pounds a month to enable you to do that. 

We will also be building a white-label solution for free use by banks and financial institutions with which they can integrate our accessibility layer into their existing platforms and banking apps. This second commercial model would be based around accessibility as a service.”

7. Know what you want to trade for funding

The final part of a clear pitch is knowing how much funding you need and how much you are prepared to give in return. 

Elliot: “What David and BankAbility are looking for is to raise £500,000 for 25 per cent of the equity. This money will be used to develop the MVP and for the post-MVP launch – this is a time period of about six months. For investors looking for tax-efficient investments, there is advanced assurance already received from HMRC.”

If you want someone to help walk you through your pitch deck and provide feedback on what looks good and what needs work, let us know! Join our community of entrepreneurs in order to be part of the discussion around all things to do with business growth, and drop us a line if you’d like to learn more about the specific support we offer at EHE Capital.

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