eCommerce Podcast

Our podcast is raw, honest and damn right insightful, as we chat to some of the best minds in eCommerce

Hosted by Richard Hill

Ep 85:
Asher Ismail:
Accelerate Your Growth With New Funding Alternatives for eCommerce Stores

3 tips for successful dating: DO be ambitious, DO express yourself coherently, DON’T come across as desperate.

As it turns out, the same applies when seeking funding for your business, who knew fundraising and dating could be so similar!

Asher’s been there, done it, and got the t-shirt. He knows funding as an entrepreneur can be a long, hard slog. That’s why he created Uncapped so eCommerce stores can worry less about money and focus more on nurturing their business. 

Get listening as Asher shares his own experiences with fundraising, as well as tips to make sure you succeed in securing the funding you need to accelerate your growth.

eCom@One Presents:

Asher Ismail

Asher is the Co-Founder of Uncapped, working with leading eCommerce brands to help them scale faster through revenue based financing. As an entrepreneur, Asher’s frustrations with trying to find success with the limited financing options available for eCommerce brands was becoming exhausting, so he decided to develop his own solution. After rounding up a solid team with the same vision and $120 million later, Uncapped was born. 

In this episode, Asher talks to us all about what makes Uncapped different from the more traditional funding options like venture capital and bank loans, and how their model gives eCommerce store owners more time to get on with growing their businesses and less time worrying about money. 

We also discuss Asher’s personal journey to gaining funding, from his tried and tested tips to succeeding in fundraising, as well as what to avoid in the all important pitch for money. 

Are you an eCommerce store looking to grow, but finances are getting in the way? Then tune in to this episode as Asher shares some great advice to put you on the path to landing the funding you need. And if you’re an eCommerce store that’s been running for 6+ months, and are generating over $10k per month, then listen in and find out how Uncapped could be your future fundraising solution. 

Topics Covered:

01:24 – How Uncapped was born

02:58 – The different funding options available and how Uncapped differs

05:37 – Are new-style funding options really all that simple?

08:15 – Typical uses of funding

09:40 – What Uncapped look for before offering funding

14:51 – How Uncapped can help smaller businesses

16:05 – The risks and benefits of crowdfunding

20:40 – Tried and tested advice for raising money for your business

27:21 – What to avoid when pitching for fundraising

30:25 – Book recommendation

31:26 – eCom@One EXCLUSIVE offer

Richard Hill:
Hi there I'm Richard Hill, the host of ‎eCom@One, welcome to our 85th episode. In this episode I speak with Asher Ismail, as co-founder of Uncapped. Asher works with leading eCommerce brands to help them scale faster through revenue-based financing. Through a frustration around the limited financing options available to eCommerce brands, Asher and the team raised 120 million US dollars and Uncapped was born. With a multitude of funding options to wade through, Asher and I talk through some of the best ways to fund your eCommerce growth, whether that's for a marketing budget, paying for stock from overseas or implementing the next stage of growth to deliver your vision.

Richard Hill:
Asher talks about raising funds and how it's like dating and the obvious pitfalls that you need to avoid. If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe so you're always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now let's head over to this fantastic episode. This episode is brought to you by eComOne, eCommerce marketing agency. eComOne works purely with eCommerce stores, scaling their Google shopping, SEO, Google search, and Facebook ads through a proven performance driven approach. Go to ecomone.com/resources for a host of amazing resources to grow your paid and organic channels.

Richard Hill:
How are you doing Asher?

Asher Ismail:
Hey, I'm doing great. Thanks so much for having me here.

Richard Hill:
No problem at all. Absolute pleasure. I am really looking forward to this one. Once again, it is a topic that I am not completely au fait with, far from. I have a lot of friends that are involved in this space on the other end, and I'm on your side a little bit. So really looking forward to talking all things funding, but all things, particularly eCommerce funding, which I know is going to be a cracking episode. And I know there's a lot of chat about this, obviously, a lot of different opportunities out there for eCommerce brands at the moment around the funding space. So I think if you could kick off and tell us about yourself, tell us about Uncapped and how it came about.

Asher Ismail:
Absolutely. So I'm one of the co-founders of Uncapped. And I guess what we're really passionate about is that founders shouldn't have to give away equity in order to fund their growth. So we provide fast, flexible funding to eCommerce businesses from marketing, inventory or hiring.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Without personal guarantees or dilution. And my background is in startups. This is actually the third business that I've been working on over the years. And the biggest problem I always had was getting the funding that I needed. And I guess working with hundreds of eCommerce founders, I've seen how they've struggled too.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So for me, it's a dream to get to work on Uncapped because every day I get to help other entrepreneurs solve this problem and get the funding they need. Our first customers as well were my friends.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So from the start, I think we've really created a product that is fast, fair, friendly, really what you'd want to give to a mate.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And now we're in 22 countries, including the US and the UK and our business has been growing exponentially. We're deploying hundreds of millions of dollars. And we now fund more businesses in a day than the typical VC will fund in a year.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. I think the differences that are out there with the different types of funding obviously typically, correct me if I'm wrong, but ultimately you either go... Traditionally, you might go to a bank or you go to a VC and ultimately they're going to charge you an amount, but quite often they want, obviously they want a return, but they want to they... They may want different guarantees and things like that, that are tied into that arrangement. So what would you say in the simplest form is the difference between the different types of funding that's out there and obviously what and how your offer differs?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah. So there's a range of options and Uncapped is really born out of the frustrations I had and I faced when I was running my first business. I did my first one in 2003 and I was young and just trying to raise a 100k.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And I probably went to a hundred meetings and got a hundred nos.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And I didn't want to take financing from the banks because as you said, they all wanted personal guarantees and compounding interest and there was a venture capital of course, but it wasn't ideal either because I didn't have a track record. I didn't have connections or that warm introduction.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And so I just repeatedly missed out on growth opportunities.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And then when I was raising money for my second business, I thought I had it all figured out and I ended up raising millions of venture capital money, but then I got terribly diluted and I just started to realize that the options for me were really limited and it was actually quite depressing.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
To think that I could work so hard and then own so little of my company.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And yeah. And I guess I noticed it just wasn't me. Growing businesses, they're just often left to choose between raising costly venture capital or burdening themselves with traditional debt. So I thought there must be a better way. And so we started to work on Uncapped.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's... I would say that not many people are that aware that there are other options now. Obviously it's a newer style of getting monies into a business, but typically, exactly what you say. I've seen time and time again where people that are going to tens of or hundreds and hundreds of meetings and it's, Blimey, it's hard work out there to get funding. And then ultimately, you're sort of begging bowl out trying to get the funding, and then, but ultimately when it comes to paying things back and dilution of equity, dilution of your actual business, it's a lot of work when potentially you may, well... Worst case scenario get pushed out at the far end where actually you're working for the investors, whoever they may be as opposed to a simpler route.

Richard Hill:
So eComm store, listening in right now. Yeah. They're doing, let's say, they're doing 10 million pounds a year or 15 million dollars. Obviously that's not a perfect conversion rate, I'm sure. And they're looking to raise through your type of model, how does that work then? So we're we're doing 10 million a year, we've got a combination of maybe so much through Amazon, so much through eBay, so much through the store, maybe a third, third, third. I know it won't be that simple, but just for the maths it might be. How simple is it for this new style funding?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah. So I guess we're trying to create this alternative to some of those options you mentioned around bank loan or a typical equity route that a lot of entrepreneurs would go down and our fundamental belief is that, Hey, founders shouldn't have to give away that ownership to fund the growth. So what we do is we provide equity and interest free investments that start at 10k and go up to five million.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And we charge a flat fee on the capital provided. And so the business, they only repay the capital as they make revenue with no set repayment date, there's no compounding interest, equity or personal guarantees. There's also no pitching or business plans or coffees required. Which means that you can really get back to growing your company.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Maybe to give you an example. So you were mentioning, Hey, if you had an entrepreneur and they had a certain amount of revenue they're generating today across a bunch of different places.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Say, for example, they're doing a 100k of marketing today and they want to get some capital for that. So what would happen was, we could give them that 100k and what we would do is we'd take a fixed portion of their daily revenue, which might be like five or 10%.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Until we get 106k back.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So with that, there's no equity, there's no hidden fees. You're just paying that 6% flat fee.

Richard Hill:
So that's automated through every order that comes through?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, exactly. So we'll connect to the business and be able to really understand how that business is performing.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And on that basis, make a data driven decision about the capital that they should be getting. And that's a huge change, of course, from the traditional model where if you go to a bank they're depending on your credit score, they're trying to get you to make some projections, which... You might be half baked.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And you're spending weeks in this back and forth of doing due diligence, or you're going to a venture capital situation where you're knocking on tons of doors and potentially taking six months to raise that funds. When, of course, every minute that you are out raising money is time that you're not spending growing your business. Time you should be spending with your team and your customers.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Actually getting the results you want.

Richard Hill:
And what do you find typically stores are using the funding for? Obviously you talked about marketing. Is there any sort of trends you are seeing at the moment that people are investing in more so?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah. Well, yeah, no, no, eCommerce businesses, I think have a particular funding challenge. Right? In terms of working capital.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
One of the biggest challenges is difficult terms from suppliers.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So when you are looking for funding, so often eCommerce business, they need that money for inventory. And as we come up to the golden quarter at the moment.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Every eCommerce entrepreneur is going to want to make sure that they have all the inventory to meet that demand.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So I think that's the first one.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
The second one of course is marketing. Right? Because hey, if you have something that's working. If you have a great return on ad spend. You want to be able to put more fuel on that fire.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And kind of what we're giving you as an option and it is, do that without basically losing a piece of the pie effectively.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And I think, especially if you compare to equity options that you mentioned, if you think about it, if you take one pound as a business and you know that you're going to get three pounds at back on your marketing spend and you're putting that money into Facebook or Google, it seems crazy to then give away a piece of your company. Right?

Richard Hill:
Yep.

Asher Ismail:
Because you know you're going to get that money right back. So why not instead use another option, which takes a much smaller expense and keeps you in control of your business.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. It all sounds so simple Asher, to be fair. Doesn't it? So you're literally saying, we log onto your store, sorry your platform, we fill how much we want. I think is what we're saying. Right? I want 100k. We clickety click and then you guys say yes or no. Now what, in terms of that sort of decision process at your end and your type of business, how does that work? You are looking at their order patterns for the last three, six, 12 months. You're looking at company accounts. What's the sort of process there for getting through?

Asher Ismail:
Absolutely. Yeah. So, as you said, I think the simplicity is in the fact that we connect to the live data.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
That the business uses to run.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So that means, connecting to your Stripe account, to your Google ads.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
To what you're using to probably look at your business.

Richard Hill:
You're looking at the Google ads or are you looking at the previous spend on the different platforms?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, absolutely. So we get this transactional level understanding of how that business is performing.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And we connect it to our revenue prediction engine.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
We analyse the numbers and then we can reach a data driven decision.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And what happens then is typically within 24 hours, we're going to present you with multiple offers.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And you can choose the amount of revenue that you want to share with us. The more that you share, the more capital that you can access. And our idea as well is that we'll never make you an offer that we don't think the business can afford.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Because, unlike a VC that needs one in 10 businesses to succeed, we need 99 to a hundred percent of the businesses we back to succeed.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So, in our model, we, we really work with our founders to make sure that they're working in a model that works for them, but also find ways to help accelerate what they're doing. Because, of course, if we can help them generate those revenues faster.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
We're also getting paid back faster. So it really aligns the incentives between us in a way that I don't think any other form of capital does.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, no, I think that is smart. That is really smart. It's not something, as I said, when we came on, it's not something I'm that familiar with, but you know, I sort had a feel that these sort of models are out there, but not... I don't know any clients that are using it. The bottom line is you're using historical data for the eCom store. So obviously all our listeners are eCom stores. If you're sitting there and you're spending that 10 grand a month on Google ads and your five grand a month on Facebook ads and you're turning over whatever it is, two, three hundred grand a month on your store, all that data's going into your platform from that, your algorithm and is saying, yeah, you can afford to pay. We can afford to lend, or you could afford to pay back potentially an amount. So you give them a two and a from that they can borrow then, or is it sort of a right one number or?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, absolutely. So we'll give usually a range of offers.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And the business can choose what's right for their needs.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So I think that's key as well and definitely has been the experience with so many founders that we have worked with.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And there's been a big range of businesses as well. And of course they're going to have different needs in terms of what they're actually looking for. So we really try to make it tailored to their situation.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Maybe it'd be helpful to give you some examples.

Richard Hill:
Yes.

Asher Ismail:
So, for example, we've worked with some founders who are bootstrapped. Right? And they've taken really limited investment. One of our first customers was a sustainable fashion brand called Hedoine.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And they had this problem that so many eCommerce fashion businesses have. Right? Where basically you are juggling cash between inventory and marketing. So, the founders, they would have to basically wait till the current season would sell. So they could then invest and get the returns in the next season.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And that just really limited their growth.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And Alex and Anna are the founders of Hedoine. So they signed up from us. They got a 50k advance at the end of 2019.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
They used the money to put into Facebook and Instagram marketing and in Q1 2020, the revenues grew 11000% compared to the previous year.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And for me, I feel like it's such amazing to see that because you can kind of see that what's possible for an eCommerce business, because they're hard to get started because of the working capital issue. But once you have something that works and that people want, you can then scale a business like that so incredibly with actually really limited number people. So I think it's just getting over that hurdle is the key to making it work in eCommerce.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think, yeah, I see it a lot. I actually had a conversation this morning. I met friend of mine for coffee and he was talking about a business that he set up. And it's how... I won't go to too much detail, but helping creators create membership and information products. These are big influence... Well, fairly sizable influencers. They just don't know how to do that side of the business. They can create and they know their topic, but they can't, and they're not really selling a product, they're offering a service. So it's very limited what they can do. And we were sort of discussing, well, he can help them create the product because that's what he does. But then obviously ultimately they then got to market it. So I'm just thinking this would work perfectly, potentially, but, well, it'll be a newer thing.

Richard Hill:
That's the only challenge. So there wouldn't be much data there from an eCommerce perspective, but there'd be other data there. What would you say on that? Let's say you're working with somebody that's maybe not got huge revenues yet, quite small revenues, and we don't normally talk about smaller guys. The guys that are getting started, a lot of our audience are sort of already established, but maybe they're... they may be information, product based, it's a newer product, but they've maybe got a strong following already. They've got some financials, but maybe not doing the hundreds of thousands a month. What would you say? Is your type offer an option or what would you suggest for these guys?

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, absolutely. So, we are able to get involved in businesses much earlier than a lot of different options. I'd say Uncapped is great for you if you're generating sales online though for at least six months.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And you're doing at least 15k revenue per month.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Have positive unit economics and are ready to grow.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And we have seen that model work for a variety of different companies, whether they're bootstrapped or they're already venture backed.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
But it's also been great to be able to help businesses a little bit earlier in their journey as well when I think options are a little bit more challenging.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So it's available really? It's an option for them. So what's your thoughts on crowdfunding platforms then? A bit of a tangent here, we'll step to the side a little bit and crowd funding. I think, again, I've got another very good friend of mine. I don't see him too often now. And he set up a... Which is now Brandon sold it, firm and he very much started that and did various crowd funding projects. This is a few years ago now and raised several, several high hundreds, I think 500,000 on the second one, 200 in the first maybe. Again, not something I've personally been involved with, but I know obviously that's an option. It seems very, very prevalent nowadays. It's obviously not just the one platform maybe that there was a few years ago, a lot of different providers now, what are your thoughts on Crowdfunding?

Asher Ismail:
Well, in my last business I had experience with every type of fundraising possible. I did the Angels. I did VCs.

Richard Hill:
Yep.

Asher Ismail:
I did some debt and I even did one of the largest crowdfunding rounds that happened in the UK. So that was in the earlier days before Monzo came along and blew everyone's targets out of the waterway. We had the largest target at the time. And I guess with crowdfunding, you're using small amounts of capital from a really large number of individuals to fund that business.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And what I like about crowdfunding I would say is that it's a lot less exclusive than venture capital. Right? Because you're able to actually leverage the power of the people you already know and the people who are your customers.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And a successful campaign, it really validates your business idea and potentially builds that customer base.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
I would say it works best for B2C businesses.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And it's that business where actually they have that pool of customers who can also become investors.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And it can bring a real sense of engagement, but you've got a threshold to meet and it's basically all or nothing. Right? And accordingly the consequences of failure are severe.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Right? Because if you're turned down by a venture capitalist, you can always seek out another VC.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
But if you're crowdfunding campaign fails, it can be lot harder to recover.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And most platforms, they're not going to let you list again. And a public crowdfunding campaign that's failed. At least the majority of Angels and VCs, signals either your plan or your execution isn't there.

Richard Hill:
There's a problem there possibly that's going to put people off, isn't it, the next time around? So is it maybe if you think of us, there's not quite a lot of variables there, I guess that we would to get into the detail, but I guess would it, well, would it be, if you're doing that first crowdfunding, you've got to aim, you've got to be very realistic. If you go in for whatever, some crazy million pound number, when you're setting up, it might be more like a fifty, hundred or whatever it may be, a smaller value. Would that be sort of a bit advice or?

Asher Ismail:
Well, I think you've got to always connect the funding that you need and the funding that you're going for to how your business is performing today. And I think that's true of any funding option that you're going for. With Uncapped, our funding will typically relate the amount of revenue that you're generating, because we want to make sure that you are going to be able to pay that back. Right? And that you're not over-leveraging yourself and putting yourself in a situation where it's going to be a challenge.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
One of the nice things, I guess, about revenue based finance in general as a concept is that the repayments are tied to your revenue.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So if your business slows down and if you are in a place where your forecast isn't what you thought it was going to be.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
That's okay. Your repayments also just slow down or even stop. And I think that's important as well because the British Business Bank, they did this study and they showed that 73% of entrepreneurs defer growth opportunities, rather than take out capital because they're worried about the risk associated. And in the times that we've just been going through a lot of entrepreneurs are being more cautious about their approach. And so they've said, Hey, I'm just worried that actually the capital I'm going to take out could actually become a cash flow problem in itself. Right? So I think the beauty of this solution is that it solves for that. And hopefully it means that entrepreneurs can be more confident to go take out that capital and to grow their business. And of course entrepreneurs are going to be the people who are key to our economic recovery. So if they feel confident to go out and build a business, they're going to be able to create the jobs and opportunities which are important for all of us.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. That's great advice. Great advice. So obviously you've got... Not obviously not just to unpack, but obviously over the years, you've raised a lot of money for your own businesses. I think it'd be good to, from the trenches, give us some, I don't know, war stories or, obviously I think, my notes are telling me that you've raised over a hundred million yourself. Is that correct? Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, that's right. And I think it's funny. We probably raised the capital. So other founders don't have to, and we've raised a lot of money from venture capital as well, which might seem counterintuitive in a way because, Hey, we're talking to you about creating an alternative to funding, but you know, it's quite strategic because we've raised this capital basically to build this new asset class.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And what I would say in general is that equity, it's part of an entrepreneur's toolkit, but we believe that it's the wrong tool to fund the repeatable, predictable parts of your business.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
For example, digital ad spend for an eCommerce company.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
But we've basically been out to go out and raise money to spend on more of the technical risk, the R and D side of things. And that's a perfect tool for where equity makes a lot of sense for a business in those very early days. So yeah, we're fundraising so hopefully a lot of entrepreneurs don't have to. But yeah, it is definitely a journey.

Richard Hill:
It is quite an interesting one isn't it? Obviously your platform is, you are raising money via different ways to then lend money via your new platform. So it's quite a full circle really is there. So I'm really sorry to interrupt you, but I'm really interested. So the guys that are listening now, okay. Let's say they're not... There's people listening that don't want to do the Uncapped way and don't want... They want to raise money the VC way or a different way. And they want to raise 10 million pounds. I know that's really... There's a lot of different variables there that I'm not going to give you right now, but obviously you've got the scars from the trenches over the years.

Richard Hill:
I know various friends that are doing this in different levels, but okay, so you've got an offer, you've got a product, a product, an offer, you're going in front of these people, step me through some of the things that have worked really well for you and you've basically no doubt walked into a room and presented your idea. Talk me through some of the things that worked well for you.

Asher Ismail:
Yeah. I think the first piece of advice I would have is to start with a winning fundraising mindset.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So fundraising is not easy. In fact, it's one of the most frustrating and time drain activities that you as a founder would have to undertake as part of your company's growth strategy.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And early on, when you're a small team, fundraising efforts are likely to consume far more time than you'd like or want them to. But if you say you you really want to raise equity, unfortunately, there's no shortcut to that process.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So, I think the first thing is that you have to really develop a fundraising mindset that centres around a couple of different ideas. And I think the first one is to plan ahead.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So fundraising is a process and it can take time and it's rarely quick or painless. So the earlier you start planning for that process and developing relationships, the better off you're going to be.

Richard Hill:
Yep.

Asher Ismail:
And the more likely you're going to avoid fundraising in desperation mode. So that's the first thing.

Richard Hill:
Yep.

Asher Ismail:
The second thing I think is to expect rejection. You have to embrace rejection as part of the process and not take it personally. And I've seen so many founders who really do take it personally. Right? And I think being able to be resilient and pull back from that is to realize that rejection's going to happen.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
For good reasons, for dumb reasons. And many times for reasons that will remain forever a mystery.

Richard Hill:
Just keep tweaking as you get those rejections. We're just slightly right. We know we've got a better fit now, we better understand these type of investors or the product needs to tweak or the deck needs to tweak. Or I shouldn't have said that. I should have said that. And yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Just Totally. Yeah. And practice makes perfect. So every meeting is a form of practice that makes you better for that next meeting.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And the success or failure of one meeting is never the end of your story. It's just a step along the way. And as you said, you can learn from the past, you can analyse what was said in those meetings and learning how to improve your mistakes, I think it's the most crucial step.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
In finding the right investor more quickly. And just as we're as eCommerce founders, we're used to analysing all the metrics of our company. Right? We'll have all of our dashboards up, we'll be looking and tracking things. If you can apply some of that mindset and think about writing down all the questions that you were asked in that meeting.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
It's a really good way of ascertain the areas of your pitch that are still a bit ambiguous.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
You have to follow up on those information requests that you get. And if you get asked the same question multiple times, that's a chance to consider incorporating them into your materials earlier or maybe adding an appendix.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And I think practicing with the right investors is also a good approach. Maybe you want to practice with that list of investors or you think of your top ones, you want to maybe put them. Think about who are some of the people you're going to initially go out to.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And then wait until your pitch really feels organic.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And you know, that will mean that when you do get to that investor that you really are excited about, you're going to come in with the confidence to be able to execute against it.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think that's great. I think that's some really good sound advice there. I think mindset obviously is everything, isn't it? You've got to believe in what you're doing. You've really got to believe in the concept, the idea, the project. And then typically I think what I believe and when I see people sort of not necessarily pitching for finance, but pitching their business, it's like one, I don't think you believe in it. So it's going to be hard for me to, think I'm not so sure. But then just a level of quality in that pitch and the way that deck's put together and the way that, just the professionalism you are asking for what might be 50 grand or 50 million. Obviously if it's just a scrappy PowerPoint, it's not going to rock, is it?

Richard Hill:
So, and then practicing it, practicing, practicing it. I keep getting on my feed or it's slightly different, but it's, it's very similar, the Dragon's Den pitches that come up and some of them are obviously a lot better than others and are sort of the perfect... I keep getting the perfect pitch. Some of them are just so good, obviously nerves and [inaudible 00:27:03] and getting potentially help with your nerves and getting help with presenting and that people I can imagine just sort of walk into these meetings and maybe are seriously under prepared and expect somebody to lend them half million pounds or whatever it would be, maybe. So, yeah. I think some sound advice there. Do you got any sort of war stories, where things maybe haven't gone so well and things to avoid now, and I think you sort of touched on it there in a roundabout way, but any sort... Or things you've heard of people that went in and some big mistakes that get made?

Asher Ismail:
Absolutely. I think there are so many deadly mistakes that entrepreneurs should avoid. One it's, giving up after that first rejection or asking too early or bringing up issues during negotiation, being under prepared, as you said, is another one or underestimating your future revenue. Because, for example, typically when you go and meet a investor, whatever numbers you give them, they're going to put a little bit of a haircut on that. And so if you don't have the confidence to believe in what your numbers are going to be, don't have that ambition.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Then you are kind of setting yourself up for a failure. But I think the biggest one I would say is, not asking. Don't ask, don't get.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And if you don't make an actual ask, no one will give you actual money.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And if no one gives you actual money, you actually can't do anything with it. So it's very simple. Don't ask, don't get.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
The other thing I would say, coming back to your point previously about, how do you raise that big money? I think it's actually that in the early days, the main drivers behind you raising that money, is two things. One is FOMO, which is fear of missing out. And the other is having your growth metrics.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Maybe if you want to raise really big money you need a third fact, which is a big vision.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
But it, it still always comes back to the idea that fundraising is a sales process. It's a numbers game. Right? And you can't be demoralized because you just need that one yes.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And it requires that confidence to basically act in demand.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So the fear of missing out for the investor, you mean? Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Yeah, absolutely. Right? And I think another analogy I often give is that fundraising is a little bit like dating. Right? Because, unless you're really lucky and investors come to you, fundraising, it does take all these different meetings with kinds of investors good and bad. But, just as when you're going on a date, you want to come in from a place where you are not coming there from a form of desperation. Right?

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Because the investor's going to sense that, and just as you would, if you were meeting somebody for that first drink.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And you want to be able to therefore come across with a coherent story.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
With ambition, but to be acting in demand. And I think that's going to be more likely that you're going to get the ideal investor that you're looking for.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think that's a great end to our episode Asher. I think that's really opened my eyes. I think, as an ex eCommerce store owner for many years, that was the funding from Uncapped and the way that that works is something that just wasn't available. And I think... I'm sure a lot of stores are aware, but obviously we'll up everything in the episode and in the show notes. But I think that's just really opened my eyes and I'm sure it will a lot of our listeners. So I always like to end every episode with a book recommendation. Do you have a book that you would recommend to our listeners?

Asher Ismail:
Well, yeah. I actually have a few. I guess this is where on the topic of fundraising, I think maybe I'll give you some fundraising resources. And I think one of my favourites is the Fundraising Fuel Guide by Carlos Espinal. Carlos is actually one of the early investors in Uncapped and I feel like I've learned so much from him, the advice that I'm giving today. So I think he's a great resource to checkout.

Richard Hill:
Yep.

Asher Ismail:
If you want to do a crowdfunding round, because you mentioned, Hey, you have some folks interested in that space. I think a really good book is Nathan Rose's book Equity Crowdfunding, the complete guide for growing companies. And then of course, if you want to learn about revenue based finance, we have lots of great resources on weareuncapped.com.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. That's fantastic. That is very good. Yeah. Thank you so much Asher. So for the guys that are listening who want to find out more about you, more about Uncapped, is it Uncapped, go to Uncapped? Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
Absolutely. I actually also had a bit of a special offer for your listeners. So, if you are listening and you run an eCommerce store and you make at least 10k per month.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
And want to either scale your campaigns faster or purchase inventory, we can help. So, in October last month we ran a really successful campaign and we funded hundreds of store owners just like you. We gave them up to 50k absolutely free.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
So there is no fee. Normally we charge a 6% fee, but in October we did it for exactly zero.

Richard Hill:
Wow.

Asher Ismail:
So on our website, you won't find mention of it anymore. It's gone.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
But we thought Richard, for the listeners of your podcast were ready to make it happen again. So all you have to do is reach out to me via email asher@weareuncapped.com.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Asher Ismail:
With the subject line, Secret 50k and a bit about you. And we can see if you qualify. So again, if you run an eCommerce store and make at least 10k per month and want to scale faster, reach out to me personally at asher@weareuncapped.com.

Richard Hill:
That's brilliant. Is that 10k turnover or 10k profit?

Asher Ismail:
10k turnover.

Richard Hill:
Turnover. Yeah. I thought it was. I thought I'd just clarify for that. Yeah. That's brilliant. Well, that is so kind of you. We'll link everything up with the show notes and obviously, yeah, that's really good of you. Thank you so much. Well, thank you so much for being a guest on the show and I look forward to catching up with you again.

Asher Ismail:
Amazing. Thanks so much for having me Richard.

Richard Hill:
Thank you. Bye bye.

Richard Hill:
Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce podcast. If you enjoyed today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter and leave us a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eCom@One, the eCommerce marketing agency.

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