Ine Jacobsen, Associate
What an honour it was to host the first two editions of Female Founders Mentoring Hours in Southeast Asia! With 37 mentors from 28 of SEA’s leading venture capital funds mentoring 125 female founders across 536 meetings, it was a thrill and a huge humbling experience for all of us at Cocoon Capital. Playfair Capital did an amazing job kickstarting this initiative and in the span of a few months it has grown in the UK and expanded to the US and Israel in addition to SEA.
The structure of FFMH is a little different to what a lot of founders (and investors) are used to from other pitching or networking events. Each founder gets four individual, 13-minute investor meetings. The participating investors get to meet with 4 different founders every hour. Most investors participated for 3 to 4 hours (some even did 7 hours over the course of 3 days!) meeting up to 28 founders.
The experience with FFMH got me thinking about the value of 13 minutes and the superpower of being able to pitch a business and manage to do business development or mentoring during this short time frame. I definitely remember the founders who succinctly told me about their business and then spent the rest of the time brainstorming either strategy or answering specific questions around fundraising, hiring, business models, etc.
One of the reasons we launched FFMH (more about it here) is that an important part of an entrepreneur’s journey is being able to establish relationships with investors. This takes practice. We want the 13 minutes to give the founders a structure and goalpost to practice building the investor relationship muscle. Being able to raise capital from someone that can provide not only financing but also help on operational or strategic decisions can be key to your company’s success. Don’t forget, founders should do due diligence on potential investors too – you want to ensure they can add maximum value to your business. Take these 4 x 13-minute sessions as a launchpad for your research process!
13 minutes and beyond
So now I have a challenge to all founders: Whenever you meet a stakeholder, try to structure your conversation like a FFMH pitch. You have 13 minutes to pitch your business AND extract value and information from the person you are meeting. Perhaps that is talking about business development opportunities, like partnerships and direct sale opportunities or introductions to candidates for roles that you are hiring for. People tend to remember you better if you involve them in the conversation and create a knowledge transfer rather than a one-way dialogue.
At the end of the day, fundraising and business building are about relationships and we all can agree that two-way street relationships are much more valuable than a one-way street relationship. Treat your pitch the same way!
FFMH will be held every 4 months so look out for the next edition that will be launched in November 2020! Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for updates, and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates.