Kurt Brenkus Shares 4 Lessons on Raising
$30 Million for the First Time
Last month, we hosted the first of a series of conversations for our portfolio company founders called Getting Real, a forum to explore and discuss relevant topics with connections in the TitletownTech network.
Our first featured speaker was Indigenous Pact Founder and CEO Kurt Brenkus. Prior to Indigenous Pact, Kurt was the founder and CEO of Aver Inc. (now Enlace Health), Chief Information Officer for National Audit, and Chief of Staff at United Healthcare.
While founder and CEO of Aver Inc., an Ohio-based startup focused on healthcare payment reform, Kurt raised $30 million in capital from notable VCs, including Drive Capital, GE Ventures, Heritage Capital Group, SVB Capital, and angel investors. Notably, Kurt was a first-time founder, based in the Midwest, and raised his Series B in a challenging economic environment.
Given the current economic climate contributing to uncertainty ahead, Kurt shared his four pieces of timeless advice for successfully navigating financing regardless of timing.
Timeless advice for successfully navigating venture capital fundraising
Run a process
Before you can start fundraising, you need to do your homework. That might start with employing a fundraising CRM tool or creating a spreadsheet to track fundraising progress, but most importantly, you need to create a process around researching and prioritizing funds.
Conduct a fund interview
For those couple of funds that rank high on your list, see if you can learn more about what they’re looking for ahead of pitching them. Ask questions surrounding current fund size, decision-making, and tendencies in deal-making.
Tailor your pitch appropriately
Different funds have different investment criteria, but you can bet that quality storytelling and solid financials will almost always be of interest in any room. After that, make each pitch unique to the fund, whether that’s focusing more on the background of your team members or taking a deep dive into your current tech stack, depending on what the fund finds valuable.
Perform reverse diligence
Recognize that you’re picking a partner to help build your business with you. Keeping this in mind, go beyond the references provided by the fund. Because of the nature of the business, there are portfolio companies within the fund that haven’t been successful. Reach out to those founders and CEOs and learn how the fund responded when things got tough. Character is just as important as investment.
Kurt’s final piece of advice for founders looking to fundraise during uncertain times? Remember that “a good deal is always a good deal.”
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