Celebrity Webchefs is making cooking an interactive experience, creating video series that pair well-know celebrities with gourmet chefs preparing delicious and simple meals with emphasis on nutrition. Founded by a team with extensive experience in the food and technology industries, who set out to raise $250,000 to expand their site and produce additional content. The team exceeded their goal to become 174% funded, bringing in $435,000 from investors.
Co-founder and veteran entrepreneur Bill Baker is a pioneer in emerging internet technologies, and has been an advocate for new media throughout his career. Bill is no stranger to fundraising, having previously funded 3 successful businesses. Bill leveraged the Fundable platform to navigate the fundraise process with early stage angel investors. He shares his advice on fundraising and scaling below.
How did you determine that the timing was right to seek funding for your business?
For me, funding has always been a milestone thing, not a timeline thing. Our business sought capital at a time when we had achieved initial validation and began producing videos. We were able to clearly articulate our value proposition to consumers and investors.
If you’re starting to think about raising capital, first go to friends and family and get their opinion. Then go to a mentor and ask for a more critical evaluation. It’s the best way to prepare yourself for more in depth discussions with people as you seek a strategic investment.
How valuable are personal and social networks during the fundraise process?
I think social networks and my network were very important during the fundraising process. Social networks allow you to reconnect with old acquaintances. The days of an idea on a napkin getting funded are over, because with social media it’s easier and less expensive to get something to a large audience and test the market.
One on one personal contact is also incredibly important. It takes personal touch to articulate the vision, strategy and execution to close a fundraise.
What advice do you have for those seeking capital from friends and family?
Approach friends and family rounds differently than you would a round with professional investors. Friends and family will still want to see something to show for your idea- an initial customer base or initial product is important to help them understand what you’re asking them to support.
How about Angels and Professional Investors?
In past businesses, I’ve sought institutional capital in order to scale. In the start-up world funding is a constant activity, it never stops. Ideally, you’re looking for smart money from investors that are interested in strategic investments, so it’s important to show profitability or, at the very least, strong customer validation.
Did you have a mentor in funding?
Yes, Frank Dzubeck, President of Communications Network Architects (Washington, DC) has been an incredible mentor and an Advisor. Every entrepreneur needs a ‘Dzubeck’ on board that will ask the tough questions and challenge you to be your best. It wasn’t always fun for me but the experience was invaluable. He taught me to look at funding from an investor perspective and I will forever be grateful.
What piece of advice do you have for other Fundable startups?
Burn the ships. If you want to succeed you’ve got to be ‘all in’. Being an entrepreneur is a tough challenge- it can be scary and a little lonely. But every step is important to the process. Expertise is forged, and successful entrepreneurs are not made overnight.