1- An amazing customer service
2- Fast digital experience: UX/UI, payment and delivery.
3- Mid-term drop-shipping: Mid-term because we managed the production of the flower arrangements under our own hands (because we wanted quality guaranties in this point), but we didn’t have any farm, warehouse, vehicles for deliveries and the most importan thing: any inventories. We had a key partnerships and our physical locations was “in front of” our big and best suppliers (local spaces designed for wholesale flowers). This was the key because our suppliers took the inventories risk (the flowers has a low life expectative) and we only bought fresh flowers if we had a paid customer and we only bought in the “delivery moment”. Our suppliers were located in downtown places and this means that the rental prices was so low and also we could get more office space (as a plus).
With those proposition values (especially with the point 3) and with our fast growing (’cause we could sell in lowest prices — 20% less aproximally), we was ready for pitch our startup.
After 12 months (since we had the first approach with the Fund), we got it! we had an investment! We had one of the 3 first investment of Velum Ventures and we were so excited! Very few number of startups (in Colombia or LATAM) get an invest and least got our capital raised (USD $350.000 in total after a few follow-On).
But all of us we know that raise money is only the first (or really second) step in this difficult startup world. The key question is: Now, how do I execute a seed round after it’s raised?
The first thing that I would say is: always we will get a lot of mistakes. Always. I was the CEO and founder, but after of I had the invest I was working in everything whiting the startup, especially in engineering. For me was so much difficult be the leader, manage people and did all of kind the stuff it suppose that a CEO make.
However I was decided to that happen and I did it (well… only a few things). I did a lot of mistakes and eventually I will write about that. In this particular case and taking my experience I will to talk about my first and big mistakes (I’m the only guilty about this mistakes):
1- We didn’t find a “really winner business model” before we had raised the money
2- We had focus on fast growing (other product lines, more employees and more cities or countries) and spend a lot of money on ineffective paid ads. We hadn’t focus on the recurring customers and organic purchases growth, word of mouth and business model and strategies quality.
3- As a CEO I losed my focus on small things and day-to-day tasks.
4- Bad hirings, I didn’t know of the Colombian labor Acts.
5- Bad partners, bad relationships, bad communication (All of that was my fault, only my fault), ’cause I was a bad leader and a bad comunicator. I’m getting better.
6- I hadn’t a life balance and I hadn’t a life partner woman (aka serious girlfriend or wife :)) I’m getting better :)
About this 6 points I will write more foreward. Now, how do I execute a seed round after it’s raised?
1- You will need an execution plan, and this plan it depends of your particular situation. This is all about assets allocation: put the money in the correct moment, amount and department. For example: in our situation we needed , first of all, to be professionals. We needed a lawyer and an accountant. Lawyer because we needed employees with all the benefits and law requirements (our employees before we raised the money had been as a freelancers, all of them). And we needed an accountant because the numbers needed to be in order.
2- One of the most important thing on you will need invest money is on a good persons as an Administrative Help. Your day-to-day tasks are so complicated, so much and so busiest but necessary. For that if you actually don’t have this type of person, you will need it
3- Then of these points you will need invest in the most important thing: your growth. Here the question is: from where do I get our most important and big incomes? we have different answers for that question: paid ads (the worst answer), word of mouth (the best answer), growth hacking (the super best answer). Which one is your’s? Put the money there.
4- Team is the next big one. You probably will want to growth the team, but… you will need explore your key activities and hire really good people. This point is one of the most important, more later I will write about.
Here you can finish the first part of your assets allocation. Please you will to be sure in what points you will need invest: moment, amount and department