Background and Context
John Sewell, the founder of Cosimo, an online art marketplace connecting emerging artists with collectors, joined FundingHero's 12-week fundraising accelerator programme. Cosimo had recently completed an initial fundraise and was preparing for their next round. Participating in the accelerator programme seemed like a natural fit to refine their commercial model and enhance their fundraising strategy.
John said: “One of the standout aspects of the programme is the calibre of the fellow businesses participating. Each business is in a unique but strong position, working on exciting ventures. Moreover, the experience and expertise of both Jim and Vernon have been invaluable. Their personal journeys as entrepreneurs bring a deep level of engagement and understanding to the programme. Their hands-on approach sets this programme apart and addresses a gap that often exists in other programmes. The level of involvement and support provided by Jim and Vernon has been crucial to the programmes success.”
Goals and Expectations
One of the primary goals for Cosimo during the accelerator was to fine-tune their commercial model. Although they had a commercial model in place from the initial round, John recognised the need for further refinement. Working closely with Jim, one of the programme mentors, allowed Cosimo to delve into the details and improve their commercial approach significantly, considering how better they could monetise their art marketplace. This focus on refining their commercials became one of the programme's most valuable takeaways for John and his team.
“Joining the accelerator programme coincided with our need to prepare for our next fundraising round, as we had recently completed our initial fundraise, but the next one would be quickly coming around the corner. The timing aligned perfectly, as it is commonly advised to start preparing for the next round as soon as possible. It was a brilliant opportunity for us. Our previous funding round could be categorised as somewhere between friends and family and pre-seed, while the upcoming round falls in the range of pre-seed to seed funding. So, this programme is particularly beneficial for our seed round preparations.” - John Sewell
John describes his overall experience on the fundraising accelerator as incredibly positive. He was excited by the opportunity to connect with other founders in the programme, who had achieved remarkable things in their respective fields. The sense of camaraderie and peer support within the cohort was immensely valuable. John found it inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and elevate his own work through their interactions.
“The overall experience on the accelerator has been incredibly positive. One aspect that pleasantly surprised me was the opportunity to meet and connect with other founders in the programme. It wasn't just familiar faces from previous programmes; instead, it was a diverse group of individuals who have achieved remarkable things in their respective fields. The sense of camaraderie and the support from this cohort of peers has been immensely valuable. It was one of the highlights of the fundraising programme for me.” - John Sewell
Value of the fundraising accelerator
Several aspects of the programme were particularly valuable for Cosimo. The planning phase allowed them to develop a solid financial growth strategy and consider a wide range of aspects scaling companies need such as talent planning, future funding round planning, and the types of key milestones needed to get to the next funding milestone. All of these items provided a comprehensive and strategic approach to growth that aren’t typically taught elsewhere. The programme also provided crucial guidance in terms of refining their commercial model and effectively presenting them to potential investors. Legal sessions in the final week helped demystify the legal aspects of fundraising, addressing a common source of intimidation for founders. The mentorship and support from Jim and other experts were instrumental in tackling specific challenges and needs.
“I've been on similar programmes that cost the same, but they didn't provide as much value for money. Jim's hands-on approach has been invaluable.” - John Sewell
Networking and Connections
Networking opportunities offered during the programme proved highly beneficial for Cosimo. Connecting with other founders within the cohort provided a fresh perspective and elevated their work. The programme also facilitated connections with investors, industry experts, and guest speakers, opening doors to potential partnerships. For example, Cosimo received pro bono legal help through Higgs LLP, which they found extremely valuable and otherwise inaccessible.
Achievements and Outcomes
Throughout the programme, Cosimo made significant progress. They secured interest from an angel investor for their next round, and their business has been progressing well. Cosimo's re-launch platform has gained momentum, and they have been nominated for awards, attributing some of their success to the work done during the programme.
Future Impact and Recommendations
John wholeheartedly recommends the programme to other founders seeking fundraising support. He believes that expanding the network opportunities, both in terms of scope and geographical reach, would add even more value.
Participating in FundingHero's Fundraising Accelerator proved invaluable for Cosimo. Through refining their commercial model, expanding their network, and gaining a comprehensive understanding of fundraising, Cosimo has gained valuable insights and tools to propel their business forward. The programme's mentorship, networking opportunities, and focused approach have contributed significantly to Cosimo's growth and positioned them for success in their future funding rounds.