Raising money for my startup

Week 1

My name is Srin and I’m a co-founder of Accomable. This is my first blog post to share my experiences of the fundraising process.

Accomable is like ‘Airbnb for disabled or elderly people’ and lists adapted properties. Our vision is to turn it into a fully integrated marketplace for accessible travel services, which can provide our users with anything from accessible accommodation to medical equipment and adapted car rentals.

This is my first real attempt to raise money for a startup. Hence, over the next 10 weeks, I’ll be writing a weekly post of my experiences to share what I learn.

I suspect most of my learnings will come from making mistakes as I go through the process, so hopefully fellow entrepreneurs reading my posts will find these reflections valuable and helpful in their own fundraising process.

As this is the first post on the ‘Raising money for my startup’ series, it might help to provide some further background and context:

  • Accomable was founded by me and my friend, Martyn Sibley, who I’ve known since childhood. We’re both wheelchair users who love to travel and spent the last decade travelling the world over. We’re on a mission to make accessible travel easier.
  • We run Disability Horizons, one of the largest online lifestyle and travel blogs for the disability sector.
  • I used to be a corporate lawyer, who later did an MBA at Oxford University. I then learnt to code and make web-apps using sites such as One Month and GoRails. Martyn’s background is in marketing and economics, and more recently as an accessible travel consultant to major European tourism boards.
  • We built Accomable to be a platform for finding and booking adapted property. We later want to turn it into a full service marketplace
  • I built the app in April this year and we launched in June.
  • We have over 150 properties in 17 countries. We’ve been facilitating bookings since launch, now averaging more than 5 a week.
  • We are winners of the Skoll Venture Award and have already raised over £30K ($45K) from a mix of grant funding and competitions.

Our fundraising mission is ambitious.

We’re looking to raise just over £500K ($758K) for our seed round. Our reasoning is that we’d prefer to raise a larger amount that gives us the runway to focus on growth. We’d prefer a small number of experienced and well-connected angels, and hence have ruled out crowdfunding for now.

Going into this round, I know we’ll have some major challenges to overcome. The biggest one being that we will need to convince investors that we’re tapping a large enough market to yield a decent return.

Despite our immediate market being 10–15 million disabled people and their families; and our secondary market being over 150 million elderly people in the US and Europe, we know we’ll face an uphill challenge to convince investors that this market readily exists.

We’ve got pretty solid data to back these numbers but we know that investing in unfamiliar markets is never easy and it will be up to us to communicate the potential of what we’re doing.

So what am I going to be doing to find investors?

My first port of call will be to go through LinkedIn and speaking to various friends I know who are well connected in this space.

I started this earlier in the week and already have meetings lined up in the coming week that I’ll report back on in the next post.

I also want to use these posts to thank the folks who have been super helpful in terms of advice and introductions. So this week, a big thank you to the following folks who have helped me this past week:

Mike Olson, Founder and Chairman of Cloudera

Ajit Verghese, Humble Ventures

Gil Dibner, Angel investor + formerly a partner at Index Ventures and DFJ Esprit

Mark Hand, Venture Partner, UnLtd USA

Clay Davis, Poema Fund

Chris Hunter, Principal, Impact Ventures UK

Cheryl Rosner, CEO, Stayful.com

Andrea McKinnon, Impact Investment Partners

Harry Nelis, Accel Partners

Matt Wreford, CEO, Demica

I’ll be checking in again next week, so see you then!

Much love,

Srin

p.s. if you think there’s anyone I should speak to, get in touch with me at http://www.srin.co/contact/

p.p.s you can keep up to date on this series of posts by following me on Medium, or Twitter or LinkedIn.

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