The early morning Funding Panel at the Startup Expo in the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center during the Women4Women forum moderated by Joy Randels was alone worth attending the day event. I know there were many other good talks, and I devoted most of the rest of the day at the Innovation Hub’s exhibit booth having several conversations with entrepreneurs at different stages of their journey, looking to connect with our community. Whether at the idea, prototype, or early revenue stage, the topic of raising equity capital was at the top of their minds. I hope they see funding as the way to provide the fuel for growth necessary to achieve success down the road. Achieving funding should not be your ultimate measure of success.
This past weekend, for the first time, a Frenchman crossed the 21 miles of the English Channel on a kerosene powered hoverboard. He had failed the first time some days earlier when he fell in the water to stop mid-way to refuel with another backpack, in a platform that was apparently too small. He succeeded after the second attempt. He had a bigger platform to land in for refueling. He was competing against his previous self. He improved the little that he needed and achieved success less than two weeks after the previous failure.
Racecar drivers stop multiple times at the pits to refuel and change tires. They have whole teams of people that train physically and mentally to perform their duties in 10-second time slots. Each stop places them a quarter of a mile behind everybody who’s still racing, but all of them must stop at times. They have strategists calculating the gains from holding less fuel and running newer tires with more traction the more pit stops they take, versus the loss from heavier fuel tanks and lower traction from worn tires with decreased number of pit stops, all compounded in complexity by the “stopped-or-moving” tradeoff. Those who fine tune their complex systems, and leave the least to luck, achieve success by crossing the finish line first.
When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took off on the Apollo 11 fifty years ago, they essentially needed to carry all the fuel they would need to make it to the moon and back. We were competing with the Soviets. We combined the best science and engineering minds with the most skilled pilots available to make it first, and achieved success. When the rocket took off on July 16, 1969, that was it, there was no looking back. It took all the best minds and related technology available at the time to make it, but it also took sheer courage and resolve.
If you are one of those entrepreneurs looking to raise money, have you asked yourself if you are willing to make the small obvious changes needed on the short run to quickly go for another shot after a failed attempt? Have you built the infrastructure and knowledge base about your business and your market, and analyzed all the variables and dynamics that will determine if you will stay on the achievement path? Have you assembled a team of supporters and nurtured the relationships that will propel you forward? Have you become the proven most resourceful version of yourself, possessing and displaying the resolve and confidence investors look for?
If you get access to the fuel you want so badly, are you and all your systems ready to deliver?