As the title suggests, the past few weeks have been a bumpy old ride..!
On the surface, I’ve finally managed to secure a sponsor so that I can take The Midweek Mingles on tour around the UK (thank you Xero) and have been busy organising and promoting said upcoming four events now that’s in place; but as those of you that came to my last event in London know, I’ve also been trying to get another (much bigger) idea off the ground in recent months.
And it’s the latter that has taken me on one crazy journey of late…
For the sake of keeping my personal story launching She can. She did. as transparent as possible for you all therefore (and for those of you that have messaged me asking why I haven’t launched my podcast yet – sorry!), here’s a little insight into what the past five weeks have involved behind the scenes…
As some of you know, my 26th birthday this year fell the day after my last event on 1st August and instead of the relaxing day off I had planned (!) I found out the week before that my application to pitch to investors had been accepted, so my birthday afternoon was spent pitching for the first time.
I went in. I pitched for fifteen minutes. I walked out. My gut instinct told me it wasn’t looking good..!
Four days later, an email confirmed that.
Essentially, whilst I was initially attracted to that VC because they invest pre-seed, without even the basic model of the platform I want to build, built, or backing from the companies it would rely upon to work, their feedback confirmed that it was too early to invest. (Knowing what I know now, I can see that decision was fair). It was then suggested to me that I should consider launching a few ideas that are working well for other female-focused groups.
Something that whilst I appreciated the suggestion, frustrated me a tad, given that I have zero interest in copying what’s already out there and want to launch something new.
In the week that followed, I returned to my trusty laptop and put all my energy into securing a sponsor so that I could take my events on tour. A few days later, Xero confirmed their support for The Midweek Mingle roadshow (hurrah!) and I got to work planning and finalising the logistics for the tour.
About a week after that however, the idea I took to the investors was back on the table.
Over coffee (me) and earl grey (Mum) in my parents’ kitchen, Mum dropped into conversation that she’d mentioned that I was looking to launch a tech-based initiative to someone she knew through work and that he’d offered to sit down with me for ten minutes when he next popped over to go over my idea.
True to his word, at 4pm on a Friday afternoon five weeks ago, we sat at my parents dining table where I work in the week, and I filled him in on the platform I want to build for us all. In short, that ten-minute meeting turned into a two-hour meeting that afternoon, which progressed into a further two-hour meeting the following week with his partners in London. The CEO of his company then visited me out in the sticks here the following week for a further meeting and I then went back into London the following week to sit down with his team once again.
In brief, they ‘got’ my idea, they ‘got’ She can. She did., they ‘got’ me and they wanted to invest.
In that knowledge, I went on a crash course on all things due diligence; I learnt about and signed NDA’s for the first time; I registered She can. She did. as a limited company (as opposed to being the sole trader that I had been up until that point); I sat down with a corporate accountant to hash out what I’d need to put in place if they were to invest; I secured the backing of five household companies who believed in my idea as much as I did (and lined up meetings with many more); I secured a designer to make the platform user-friendly (/pretty!) when it was built; and I reached out to nine amazing women that I’ve met since launching She can. She did., who all agreed willingly to test the platform in its ‘lab stage’ before it went live.
With each meeting, I started to mentally prepare myself for the change that was in store for She can. She did. over the next few months.
If this went through – which with every day that went by, meeting that took place and email shared, was looking more and more likely – it would no longer be just me at my laptop plodding away each day. I’d need a team – not just to help me run my events next year but a team to help run and grow the platform too – I’d need to launch a huge PR campaign because the platform has the potential to be scaled not just nationally but globally; and I’d suddenly be responsible for more than just me.
Whilst the thought of that all made me feel a tad nauseous at times (!) and kept me up at night going over how I’d manage that change in my head, those moments were fleeting and outweighed significantly by sheer excitement. I believe in this idea so bloody much and was so ridiculously excited to get going, grow She can. She did. into the company it has the potential to be, lead a team of people that wanted to come on board, and share the idea behind the platform with you all (because ultimately, it’s for us all).
I suppose you’ve already gathered from the title however, that there was a gigantic “but” coming your way in due course (!) and unfortunately that “but” came on Thursday this week…
Whilst the investors had lined up the developers and were ready to build and I’d lined up everything on my side that the platform needed to get going, ultimately none of it could progress until we’d agreed on the investment terms and a week last Friday they offered to invest X amount for X % stake in the business.
(Cue the excitement and celebrations with my family and Andy!)
However, my gut instinct told me straight away that the stake they wanted was too high and if I signed that away, I’d be devaluing the platform and its potential. (I also went back to my spreadsheets and projected revenue forecasts and read up on how much angel investors on average receive, and together that only confirmed that gut feeling.)
With that, I went back and put forward a counter offer – the percentage that I’d be willing to share in return for their investment – and they came back and said they’d be in touch within the next 3-4 days.
In those 3-4 days I carried on plotting away at the platform in my spare time and distracted myself with the launch of The Midweek Mingle roadshow (so grateful for those of you that have bought tickets so far by the way!).
True to their word, on Thursday I received a call from the CEO but unfortunately it wasn’t the answer I’d been hoping for.
Ultimately, he went on to explain that because it’s their personal money that they would be investing, they deem the platform to be too much of a risk to invest for any less than their original offer and whilst they believe in me and will be happy to build the platform when I have the money, ultimately, acting on guidance from their advisors, they have decided to withdraw their offer.
And just like that, the plug was pulled.
I think it’s fair to say that was my biggest low point on this whole journey so far. I put the phone down (after thanking them for their support anyway of course) and cried at the table for a good hour with my Mum.
Why? Because if I’m being honest, I didn’t see it coming.
In the days leading up to Thursday, I thought worst case scenario they’d reject my offer, we’d renegotiate, both compromise and meet somewhere in the middle. At no point did I think it would be completely off the cards and I felt pretty embarrassed that I had let myself believe it was a go.
I also felt embarrassed that I had to let the companies that I’d got on board know that plans would have to be put on hold for a while; embarrassed that I’d have to let the girls that I’d asked to test the platform know it had fallen through; and for me personally, genuinely sad and emotionally drained that I’d come so close to seeing it materialise, for it to fall through completely at the very last hurdle.
However, after going home to a big bunch of cabbage shaped roses (see below!), a bottle of red and my favourite dinner cooked by Andy to cheer me up on Thursday evening, I woke up on Friday more determined than ever before.
Whilst in many ways I’m back to square one with the platform, yes, (because ultimately I can’t afford to build it myself so will have to go through the whole investment process again), I am so grateful for the experience that I’ve been on in the past five weeks with that team for so many reasons, and learnt so much about the investment process and myself along the way. It forced me to raise my game and step out of my comfort zone on so many occasions; it gave me a taste of what will be required of me when I do eventually get investment; and it confirmed that people and companies believe in the idea like I do and for that reason, reinforced the fact that the platform is. so. damn. needed.
So I suppose, to summarise, I’ve been running She can. She did. long enough now to know that everything happens for a reason.
Whilst the platform might not be going ahead right now (which yes, isn’t in any way the ideal outcome I’d hoped for) I’d much rather hold off for now than sign a contract that didn’t sit well with me and shall continue to plug away until I find the right fit. I also think She can. She did. has taught me that just because I’ve heard a “no” from them, definitely doesn’t mean I won’t hear a “yes” from someone else.
For now, I will focus on making sure that The Midweek Mingle roadshow is the very best it can be for us all – Manchester, FYI, I’m releasing the speaker-line up and tickets for you all tomorrow! – and will start reaching out to investors once again in my free time going forward (if anyone knows anyone who has a stack of cash they want to part with by the way, then hi..!)
As always, I’m so grateful for your support along the way and am still as excited as ever about where, together, we can take this thing.
Have a great week girls and speak soon!
PS. If you’d like more information on The Midweek Mingle roadshow or even better, would like to buy your ticket (!) click here! I’d love to see you there!