What I Learned From a Two-Year Fund Raising Process
Once each month I met Peter at Café Habana in Nolita for huevos rancheros drenched in tomato sauce and a glass of fresh orange juice. Mopping up yolks with tortillas, Peter and I chatted about his business: the techniques of scalable customer acquisition, the priorities of the product and engineering team, the structure of sales quotas and the ebbing and flowing dynamics of the market place he and his team were building.
After two years, Peter called to say he was raising capital for his company; he invited us to take part in the process. I lept at the opportunity to work with Peter. I had witnessed how Peter managed adversity and uncertainty in his business and trusted his instincts and intuition. We had forged a working relationship over those breakfasts.
During the fund raising process, Peter encouraged me to spend time with his team. In parallel, the Redpoint deal team researched the market opportunity heavily. Ultimately, our investment memo totaled 40 pages, laden with interviews of market place participants and industry experts.
Then we began discussing terms. Peter negotiated terms aggressively and we shook hands on a partnership between AxialMarket and Redpoint in April 2012. In addition to having a special significance because of our friendship, AxialMarket was my first investment at Redpoint where I would be point and a member of the board.
A year into our partnership, Peter and I still see each other at least once each month and have the same kinds of conversations we always shared. Sometimes those conversations occur in the board room instead of Cafe Habana.
Reflecting on those two years, I admire the way Peter managed his fundraising process: building a relationship, evaluating our working styles and negotiating a fair set of terms. To be plain, those twenty-four breakfasts were quite possibly the longest investor interview process in history.
Peter understood from the very beginning that founders and investors work together for quite a while. The data confirms it: the median venture-backed company requires seven to ten years to reach an acquisition or IPO.
Most importantly, Peter showed me the value of building a long term relationship before seeking investment, the importance of a shared passion for the business, and the power of an alliance built on healthy, strong and honest relationships between investors and founders.
And to think, it all started at a little Cuban place in Nolita over some rancheros…