San Diego Startup Week: 4 Tips for Raising Seed-Stage Capital


In 2013, our team embarked on fundraising efforts for TapHunter, a San Diego-based Internet startup. Our Web-based software helps bars, restaurants, bottle shops, tasting rooms, and breweries operate more efficiently and our mobile app helps consumers find their favorite craft beer, spirits, and cocktails.

After launching our business-to-business tools in 2012, we spent last summer driving our key metrics, including month-over-month revenue, and in October I hit the road.

San Diego Startup Week_Alternate_logo By January 2014, just three months later, we had successfully raised enough money to expand our operations by hiring five new employees and invest in marketing, putting our business in the best possible position to achieve sustained growth. Our round was led by a seed stage fund based in San Francisco. The remaining investments came from San Diego angels.

Financing is key to the viability of any company, but even the most successful entrepreneurs will tell you there is no easy path to raising money for your startup. And while there’s no getting around the hard work and pure hustle required to secure investors, these four tips will get you off and running in the right direction:

Prove your worth with metrics

Before you make your first call, make sure you can show product-to-market fit. This is often referred to as “traction.” It’s one of the first questions prospective investors will ask. Month-over-month revenue growth is a great way to illustrate demand. Likewise, pay attention to such metrics as market size, lifetime value, customer acquisition costs, growth, and burn. Each of these serves as a benchmark for growth, and all prove your company’s value to investors. You must have a proven operating plan and be prepared to show it to anyone before you can you expect them to open their wallet for you. If you don’t know the answers, find them.

Look in your own backyard

Once you’ve prepared your financials and spent hours making seemingly innumerable versions of your investor deck, it’s time to build your target investor list. Before you book that trip to Silicon Valley, be sure to look where you live. There are investors in your city and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In 2005, CNN Money reported that San Diego had 100,030 millionaire households. That’s the fifth-highest among US counties. Number six? Santa Clara County. That’s right; Taphunter’s hometown of San Diego has more millionaire households than the heart of Silicon Valley. There might not be … Next Page »

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Melani Gordon is co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based TapHunter, a software as a service platform that makes it easy for bars & restaurants to manage their alcohol beverage program, market to customers, and increase sales. Her leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for craft beer and great drinks have made her a respected industry influencer. Follow @

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