Seed funding · Startup Funding

Washington DC Seed Funding and when to go for it?

Mike Lane Cofounder and CEO, Functional Experience over 14 years.

June 13th, 2017

I'm 80% functional and 20% technical. I'm experienced in over 10 years of military leadership, consulting, and tech - so I feel pretty comfortable in terms of running this. I came up with a social app (think of our general market as dating, meetups, and nightlife) which is relatively unique with its own twist and has had much validation across many people, not just family and friends. I've done all of the functional work - business plan, market strategy, etc and I've done market research to determine my market - which conservatively is potentially $100M/y after 5 years. I've coded out an MVP web-version of the "app" to demonstrate as a demo.


I'm looking to get seed funding so that I can work on this full time as well as hire a dev (or CTO), marketing, legal support, and infrastructure.


I'm skiddish about just launching on my own because a lot of these social apps only give you one chance - if you do it right then you can grow/be successful, if you fail poorly people will delete it and never look back. I know how I can succeed I just don't have the capital to get to the level I need.


What are some tips for what I can do? I'm looking to raise 700K-1M in seed funding but the DC area isnt necessarily too hip for funding unless it aims towards real estate, cybersecurity, or some form of social justice project. I have a handful of friends that live in the bay area and they guarantee me that if I were over there it would be much easier to get to the right folks, but I have a full time job and traveling back and forth just isnt in the cards for me.


Looking for any recommendations as I feel I am far enough in the process to actually make something of this.


Thanks!


-Mike

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

June 13th, 2017

I agree with your friends. The East Coast does have a handful of social enterprises, but this is primacy in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley would be easier for the talent but will also have higher noise and competition for talent. You can approach the SV VC crowd from the East Coast (they get the issue too, so do not worry about explaining) and are willing to fund non SV ventures if they have partners close that can be involved. Do your homework on who has social app interest and an East Coast presence. You will have to present better but they will also want the core team in a single location at the start. You should cultivate the East Coast resources for SV ex-patriots to fill in your team that may have relocated for other reasons who will embrace the opportunity. Because of the dearth of social in your area, there will be less competition for them, perhaps providing a less cluttered field. It is harder but presents interesting alternatives.

Lauren Harriman Rockstart Pitch Writer, Licensed CA Attorney, CIPP/US, Tech Law Blogger

June 13th, 2017

Do you have enough funds without a seed investment to launch an bare-bones Minimially Viable Product to gain customers to show evidence of traction? Would it be at all possible for you to build in premium features in an early release of your product (marketed as such) such that you can "raise" the money you're looking for by way of selling a product to your customers? Remember, people like exclusivity (so requiring users to pay for exclusive early access might work), and almost expect to pay for quality for dating apps/services. If you need money to hire a Dev team, I get it, but if you can build out enough on your own to avoid needing to give up equity to investors, you should seriously consider it.

Mike Lane Cofounder and CEO, Functional Experience over 14 years.

June 14th, 2017

@Lauren I thought about that initially. With that there were a few issues.


1: I've used plenty of social apps that have had limited users. Based on this app in particular, if I were to use it for its purpose and were to realize that in my particular city there are only ~50 users, as opposed to ~500, I would be much less inclined to use it the next time and would uninstall and never look back.


2. I'm a mediocre coder at best, but know enough to be able to manage developers effectively. I would need someone to come on to take the MVP that I am developing now and use it as a model to make a robust program we can use to launch. The good thing about my product is that none of it is re-inventing the wheel. At its heart it is just re-using ideas that have existed for years but in a unique way that will re-invent some of the fundamentals of the market.


3. I thought about having a sign-up page on my splash page (which demonstrates the app). That being said in the world of the internet and bots and whatnot I'm not certain how legitimate it would be. If I were to get 1000 sign-ups in DC whats to say they were real, or if that number is even enough to demonstrate traction?


I completely get where you're coming from, but truthfully I feel that once I get the MVP done I'll really need some funding to get it off the ground - but with that funding I am very confident in my capabilities to execute on what I need to do.

Mike Lane Cofounder and CEO, Functional Experience over 14 years.

June 14th, 2017

Are shameless bumps to get more visibility shameless? :) I love the responses...other than the nigerian prince trying to scam me - who thankfully is gone right now - but I really would like more DC insight!