5 Steps to Getting Your Home Decor Brand Funded
Lucisano offers, “Understand how and where you want to compete and where you can win. Identify who understands those trends, who has already put money to work in that space, who loses if they do not do so, and what kind of money you want—venture capital versus private equity versus private/family office.”
He details how he and Uhuru cofounder Jason Horvath successfully secured that funding this year. “We performed a detailed financial analysis and forecasting exercise, assessing our cash needs to sustain prolonged COVID-19 market compression on the B2B side and what was needed to expand and quickly build out the new D2C business,” he explains. “In addition, we assessed what was needed for a working capital facility in terms of sustained velocity and volume in a post-COVID-19 environment, both on the B2B and D2C businesses. We then paired this with our strategic narrative and developed a detailed fundraising-investment thesis, drafted an investment memo, and circulated it to targeted investors.”
4. Set your sights on appropriate investors
Once you establish the type of business you’re building and do your research, it will become apparent which investor types are appropriate for you, and you should target your pitches as such. For example, Gibbon says, “I knew that my business was more capital intensive, so I wanted larger checks from fewer people.” However, she goes on to explain, “If you’re building a small business that you’re not trying to scale to be huge, then you don’t want to raise venture capital. A venture fund wants to get a tenfold return and invest in something that’s going to become a billion-dollar business. So if that’s not your goal, venture capital is not the right fit…. Then, angel investors could be the right route.” She also cites angel syndicates, like AngelList, which are groups of people who pool their money together to co-invest.
“Not all investors or investor types are the same, and we were deliberate about lower market private equity and private/family office investors [for Uhuru],” explains Lucisano. “We approached a targeted group of both and went with people we knew who understood our industry and why we were a fit for a partnership.” He adds that to acquire the capital they did “requires a very deliberate strategy in terms of needs (cash versus credit) and how much you can afford to give away in terms of ownership. We knew this had to be a long-term, cash-heavy investment and a bankable credit facility that could keep up with us as we grow.”
5. Tap into your network and make the pitch!
The key to success is often who you know, and the right introduction can mean everything to proper fundraising for your business. “Dig into your network and try to get a partner introduction,” Pany recommends. “Don’t hesitate to ask! It’s a smaller world than most think, and people are usually more than willing to help entrepreneurs. And if you already have a strong high-net-worth-individual network, angels may in fact be your best bet in early days.”
Lucisano says he and Horvath “spent time evaluating who we knew in the industry, B2B and D2C, who we should target, or folks that had access to investors who would understand our business and our opportunity. Then we developed very detailed approach scripts to quickly get in front of the right folks—those who knew of us or knew what we were trying to do.”
Gibbons says after targeting a list of investors in the consumer space with an appetite for home, she just started pitching, but it took a while to get to the right investors, which made her “submit” to networking. “I relied on a lot of warm intros,” she offers. “Particularly with venture investors, they get so many pitches that I think they’ll pay more attention when an introduction comes from someone they know.”
As a Black woman, Gibbons certainly knows the bias that woman of color traditionally face when raising capital—Black-women-owned firms received only 0.0006 percent of VC funding raised by start-ups between 2009 and 2017—but she says that she embarked on her fundraising mission with overconfidence and a solid business plan, and she maximized all her connections. “No one shut the door in my face because I’m Black,” she says. “I came with a certain level of credibility: I’d already built a successful career, I was already well-known in the design industry, and I had a lot of outlier qualities so I think people took me seriously and paid attention. Plus, I got a lot of warm intros in the right networks and so I was able to get to the right people.”