Matthew de la Hey of inploi – a jobs network for the hospitality industry – shares the fundraising story of his tech startup, which recently closed £250,000 in seed funding from several investors including the CEO of a large multinational hotel chain, a LinkedIn client executive, and a Geneva-based family office.
The new investment boosts inploi’s total capital to £450,000 and would be spent on further developing the platform and growing its network of candidates and employers.
Matthew and his co-founder Alex Hanson-Smith created the London-based technology company in 2015 to disrupt the staffing industry globally – Read their story here.
Matthew talks to us about inploi’s fundraising journey and how to successfully raise investment:
At the outset I would say that fundraising is a total nightmare. Everyone says it but I don’t think you fully appreciate it until you’re living it.
We are now 18 months old and progressing along our entrepreneurial journey one step at a time. A large part of that is raising funds to make building the company possible.
In our experience, it takes longer than you intend and it is harder than you expect. Both practically and emotionally.
We face the chicken and the egg problem in building a marketplace business as we need both the job seekers and employers to use inploi for it to be useful to either of them. This is also applicable to fundraising to some extent.
Institutional investors, particularly in Europe, want to see meaningful traction before getting involved, which is increasingly becoming difficult to achieve without funding.
So in the early startup stages, it’s a matter of hustling and doing things as cheaply as possible – like calling in favours, relying on people’s goodwill, utilising your savings and doing high-impact free things.
Friends, family, and people you know are also a good place to turn to for funding at this stage as they’re more sympathetic and likely to believe in you.
However, getting involved with a startup is a seriously risky game (with huge upside potential too) so you need to be upfront and straightforward about the risks.
Before giving cash investment, investors would ask questions like – Is the idea novel? Are you able to monetise it? Is the chosen market large enough to make significant returns? Are the team members driving the project committed and capable of executing on it? Would the company be able to disrupt, beat the competition and, if needed, create a new market?
At the beginning of your fundraising, and all the way through, you would need to work incredibly hard as one of the toughest parts is taking that first step into the void and setting out to build something.
A key piece of advice would be to find yourself a good co-founder, whose skillset compliments your own and is ready to work as hard as you do.
We made some mistakes along the way and failed at some things but we picked ourselves up, dust it off and got back in the saddle.