"I would say especially in early-stage fundraising, ... it really is about storytelling and about the relationship building, meaning it's really helping people understand that vision before you really have a lot to show."
Creating a vision, story investors will listen to
For early-stage food and beverage startups, "storytelling is such a critical skill set when approaching investors," Fila Manila CEO and Founders Heritage founder Jake Deleon said. At the start of Fila Manila, Deleon would approach investors with a product-heavy presentation deck and found investors cared more about the brand story and vision above specific products.
"As I started to go through the countless rejections, I was learning that people don't really care about the sauce. And then so as my deck was evolving, it was actually we had in those 20 slides, we used to have four slides on products to where we are now it's just one slide on product. It's like hey, this is a story and Phillip Manila; this is the vision that we're building. Oh, by the way, these are the products."
“Right now, you should just be focused on getting to a price that kind of clears the market and has people wishing to invest and getting towards the next stage, as you can use that capital to continue to grow,” Darcy said.
Building your investment story: one investor at a time
When it comes to finding investors for a brand, "the key is just finding the right people that believe in you with that capital," Deleon said. And this could mean looking outside the normal food and beverage investment channels, Deleon noted.
Fila Manila's "first big break" came from tech accelerator Sputnik ATX. Even though the accelerator didn't normally invest in the food startups, they listened to Deleon's pitch and provided some initial funding, only to double it following the brand's success, he added.
“It's always the first few steps that are most difficult around convincing the first few people to put money in because once you get people to put money in it, you'll be surprised at how much of a lemming mentality investors are. If people know there's a demand for you and people know there's something exciting about you, people are willing to put money into it. The doors will open; the conversations will continue for real.”
While CPG start-ups shouldn’t be afraid to tell their stories to those outside of the normal food and beverage investment space, they also need to engage with venture capitalists or angel investors through events and “tapping into any of the communities that you can, kind of starting to put the ask out there,” she added.
“Then, there's always the creating the list, mining the LinkedIn, and I would say be honestly really tactical about this; it really is like similar to a sales funnel. You're really building it from scratch in terms of who do I need to get to, and who is the contact there, and who is my warm intro. I wouldn't be afraid to send these out to current investors to friends and say, can you just take a look at this list and if there's anyone there that you can intro to me."