Surlender Pendress, founder of Love Writing Co, shares her experience participating in FundingHero's 12-week fundraising accelerator programme. As an exceptional creative founder who has bootstrapped a business for several years now to a healthy £15,000 of monthly recurring revenue, Surlender was stuck. Facing a lack of knowledge and conflicting advice on becoming investor-ready to now really scaleup, Surlender sought a comprehensive resource to enhance her understanding of financial planning, investment types, and fundraising processes. This case study highlights the transformative impact of our high growth accelerator programme on Surlender's fundraising journey, including her goals, expectations, knowledge gained, and the valuable support provided by mentors and networking opportunities.
When asked why she joined, Surrender said:
“I now need to scaleup. I’ve proven my business is viable and after securing two global licence deals that will take us international, I need some serious investment to enable us to reach our potential. So, I thought about how beneficial it would be to have a one-stop resource that could help me increase my knowledge in all areas of startup fundraising. I wanted to understand what investment readiness really means, what the investment entails, and the key financial aspects which I find really challenging. Alongside this I want to be part of a supportive community of like-minded individuals. The beauty of this programme is that it has equipped me with the tools and knowledge for getting ready for my rapid scale up journey over multiple rounds not just the next one and it’s helped me really focus on how to get to exit.”
Challenges and Expectations:
Before joining the program, Surlender aimed to raise £250k and sought to refine her financial planning, explore different investment routes, and gain investor-attractiveness. However, limited knowledge of fundraising options and lack of confidence in financials posed significant challenges.
Surlender said: “Initially, I believed that raising around £250k would be sufficient for our business needs. The £250k raise was an initial gut feeling. However, the programme quickly taught me that this would be nowhere near the right amount to execute our scaleup plan, and we were challenged to drill down into our operational scale up plan and then ensure that our financial model reflected what we really need. Now, I’ve landed on an amount almost double this through the process of creating a real detailed scaleup plan during my 12 weeks and it's been the most eye opening experience, I didn’t appreciate now just how much I didn’t know.
It's not just about understanding how to handle finances but also comprehending the specific information that different types of investors are seeking.”
As the programme nears its end, I've realised that raising funds goes beyond the monetary aspect. It requires investing in my own knowledge to comprehend the various routes to market, as well as the legal obligations and due diligence involved in the fundraising journey. Consequently, I have decided to aim for double the initial amount I intended to raise and I am now looking at raising £500-£750k. My perspective has broadened, and my confidence has greatly improved. I now possess the ability to communicate effectively in the language of investors and present a more compelling picture of my business.”
Programme Experience and Impact:
The FundingHero accelerator programme proved to be an incredible opportunity, enhancing Surlender's knowledge, boosting her confidence, and fostering self-awareness. Unlike other programmes focusing solely on personal development, this program uniquely emphasises business growth and scalability. Interactive sessions, expert guidance, and a supportive community of like-minded individuals create an immersive and practical learning experience.
Surlender said: “I would describe the programme as an incredible opportunity that not only enhances your knowledge but also boosts your confidence and self-awareness. I’ve been on other programmes, and there is nothing like it. It's the increase of knowledge, it's the increase of confidence and it's empowered me to reach out to investors. Also, now I actually have the knowledge to answer the questions that investors have for me confidently. ”
Fundraising Knowledge Enhancement:
Through the program, Surlender significantly elevated her understanding of the fundraising landscape, gaining insights into various investment types, their nuances, and respective advantages. This newfound knowledge enhances her attractiveness to investors by enabling effective communication and a compelling presentation of her business.
She said: “Yes, before participating in the investment programme by Fundinghero, my understanding of investing was quite basic, limited to knowing about angel investors, venture capitalists (VCs), and crowdfunding. However, there was a lack of knowledge regarding the nuances and benefits of each investment option. The program has significantly elevated my understanding to a high level. I have to say, my financial model is now a million miles from just a spreadsheet, it's a fundamental tool to understand how I will grow and what I will need and deliver in real terms.:
Mentorship and Personalised Support:
Surlender highlights the exceptional mentorship provided by Vernon and Jim, the program mentors. Their dedication, expertise, and commitment to supporting her growth have been instrumental in her progress. Their complementary strengths and personalised coaching sessions have identified areas for improvement and provided invaluable guidance.
Networking and Connections:
The program's networking opportunities have been immensely valuable for Surlender. It facilitated connections with strategic industry professionals, expanded her network, and opened doors to remarkable opportunities. Notably, the presence of Mabs Ali from Brewer Dolphin, who has an extensive network, further enriched the networking aspect. Another notable connection was Rupert Lyle from Midven was of great value and being on the accelerator brought Surlender under their radar a little more.
Surlender added: “During the program, I have had the opportunity to learn about the various channels of investment that are available. Additionally, I had the privilege of meeting angels who generously provided advice on how to attract them and what factors to consider. The true value of the network is worth hundreds of millions.One important aspect that was emphasised was the value of cash and how to effectively manage finances. When assessing potential angel investors, it is crucial to consider not only their monetary contributions but also conduct thorough background checks. Their expertise and network connections can prove to be extremely valuable assets for my business.”
Outcomes and Milestones:
Surlender's investment plans transformed during the programme. Initially targeting £250k, she revised her target to £500-£750k, guided by a better understanding of business valuation and growth needs. She anticipates securing funding within three to four months after program completion, leveraging her improved fundraising approach.
Recommendation and Future Funding Success:
Surlender wholeheartedly recommends FundingHero's accelerator program to other founders seeking fundraising. The knowledge gained from the program is not limited to the current round but is also anticipated to assist in securing future funding rounds. The strategies and insights provided by the programme empower participants to navigate the fundraising landscape successfully.
Surlender Pendress's journey with FundingHero's 12-week fundraising accelerator programme showcases the transformative impact it has on fundraising success. From refining financial planning and understanding investment types to boosting confidence and facilitating valuable connections, the program equips founders with the knowledge, skills, and support needed for effective fundraising. Surlender's experience serves as a testament to the programme's ability to elevate businesses and position them for long-term growth and success.