Venture Capital vs Bootstrapping: Marcel Benson of Benson Watch Company On How To Determine If Fundraising Or Bootstrapping Is The Right Choice For Your Startup

Authority Magazine
Sep 14 · 6 min read

Failure is only present if it’s observed. If you can learn from mistakes or things that don’t go your way you can choose to continue each time consequently avoiding failure. It’s up to you to accept failure or to continue the journey of discovering success.

ounders are often faced with the nagging question of whether Fundraising or Bootstrapping is the best choice for them. What is better, having access to capital or maintaining full control over your vision and profits? What is preferred, to have the seasoned oversight of an experienced investor, or to plow forward with a disruptive and pioneering ‘can do’ attitude? Of course, every situation is different, but what standards can be used to help a founder decide? As a part of this series called “Venture Capital vs. Bootstrapping: How To Determine If Fundraising Or Bootstrapping Is The Right Choice For Your Startup”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marcel Benson.

Marcel Benson is the founder of Benson Watch Company and a business graduate of Morehouse College. He is a former consultant of a top tier public accounting and advisory firm. After resigning from corporate in 2017, he began to establish himself as a pioneer within the watch industry. Leading the charge in Benson’s upward trajectory, Marcel is committed to making Benson a household name. Marcel and his company have landed in many publications most recently appearing in New Times and Town & Country. He’s garnered the attention of various celebrities, most recently Keri Hilson and the cast of Kevin Hart’s Real Husbands of Hollywood. His mission since leaving corporate has been to inspire people to spend their time doing what they love and he uses his passion for watches to shift the mindset of anyone who comes in contact with the brand. Marcel has expanded his ethos by inviting his community to invest in his brand through private investment platform, Republic.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

received my first watch when I was 7 years old as a gift from my parents. From then on I developed an affinity for watches, collecting nearly 100 pieces between the ages of 7 and 25. I went the traditional route of going to college and getting a “good job” before realizing this path did not seem authentic to me. So, I decided one day to resign and pursue my passion for watchmaking. I came up with the slogan “Time Should Be Spent Doing What You Love” as a metaphoric way to remind myself of the proper path and to encourage the masses to choose the proper path for them.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

I chose a manufacturer without vetting them and got a decent amount of money stolen with no recourse as a result.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Authenticity, Consistency, and Self awareness. Authenticity sells in today’s marketplace. Consistency will be the discipline that allows your opportunity to be met with preparation. Finally, self awareness or knowing thyself allows you to determine what is for you and what’s not. This will shorten your road to success by knowing what activities you do best. Playing to your strength can really level the playing field.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Tipping point was when I started getting sales from people that I did not know personally. This proved to me that the product wasn’t being consumed out of pity lol. This inspired me to want to create even more and better products and really began to lean into my story more.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person or mentor to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I created mentors of all kinds for myself by diving into books. I picked up my first books as a result of my uncle encouraging us to read and from there I fell in love as I discovered that there was nothing that I could not learn and that all the inspiration and motivation I needed to move forward was between those pages.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but are afraid of the prospect of failure?

Failure is only present if it’s observed. If you can learn from mistakes or things that don’t go your way you can choose to continue each time consequently avoiding failure. It’s up to you to accept failure or to continue the journey of discovering success.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our discussion. Can you share a story with us about your most successful Angel or VC investment? Or an investment that you are most proud of? What was its lesson?

We have not gone the Angel Investment route however we do have a live Equity crowdfunding campaign that is open to the public: https://republic.co/benson-watch

Can you share a story of an Angel or VC funding failure of yours? What was its lesson?

We had a committed investor that bailed at the last minute. The lesson was to continue to pitch until funds are in your hand and to not get emotionally attached to any group until the deal has closed.

Is there a company that you turned down, but now regret? Can you share the story? What lesson did you learn from that story?

No

Super. Here is the main question of this interview. Let’s imagine that a young founder comes to you and asks your advice about whether Venture Capital or Bootstrapping is best for them? What would you advise them? Can you kindly share “5 things a founder should look at to determine if fundraising or bootstrapping is the right choice”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

It’s important to first know your numbers. This means knowing how much you need, what you’ll do with the funds and the over impact it will have on operations. Where this money should come from will depend on the ownership structure of your company. If you are a cofounder you have much less space to give up to investors. Bootstrapping is usually a great way to start to learn your business and build character, however if you’d like to build a larger company and provide a greater impact you’ll need to scale. Scaling takes a large insertion of cash at once to stimulate growth so a VC may be a good option. However, equity crowdfunding, loans, and lines of credit are options too.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Precisely what we are actively doing which is encouraging the world to spend their time doing what they love.

We are very blessed that a lot of amazing founders and social impact organizations read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)

I’d love to sit down with Kevin Hart as I respect his business acumen, ambition and love for watches.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success and good health!

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