092. Fundraising Is Hard

VC Minute
Dama, the CEO of our portfolio company Manatee, pulled a fundraising rabbit out of her hat. She shares her fundraising advice this week... and it's good!

VC Minute – quick advice to help startup founders fundraise better.

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Rich Maloy

This is Rich Maloy with SpringTime Ventures, bringing you the VC Minute, quick advice to help startup founders fundraise better.

This week we’re going to hear from Dama Dipayana, CEO of Manatee, one of SpringTime’s portfolio companies. I invited her on because last year she pulled a frickin’ fundraising rabbit out of her hat.

The short story is that she had a term sheet get pulled at the last minute through no fault of her own. That’s a story for another time. She had a month of runway, had to pull off an emergency insider round, and turned that into a $4.7 million raise from both strategic investors and VCs.

Dama Dipayana

Hi everyone. My name is Dama. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Manatee. Manatee is a virtual mental health company for families. I’m originally from the Netherlands. I’ve lived in the US now for probably 11 years.

First and foremost, I maybe share a note of solidarity. I actually thought that I’d be really good at fundraising. Turns out I’m very bad at fundraising. And the good news is, is most people are very, very bad at fundraising.

If you think about it, right, like very few companies actually get funded. Most companies die. And I know that it sounds really dire, but I’m gonna have some uplifting notes.

When you look at the news, when you look at TechCrunch, you see all these companies that just raise like $40 million, may not have anything. So there’s this bias, right? And where we think it’s actually like not that hard to do because all these other companies do it, but then there’s only very few companies that even get covered in the news.

Recognize that that’s the case and recognize that fundraising is actually really, really, really hard and actually very few people are good at it.

With that is our fundraising background. We kicked off our company with nothing like a really exciting idea in 2019, and then got essentially like our first check from Techstars very early on. We didn’t even raise, we just won a bunch of startup pitches, which I can go into, whether it’s helpful or not. But we actually then had, I think, $250,000 in the bank just from Techstars and those pitches.

Then we did a little bit of tinkering and then raised essentially our first round, which was 1.5 million dollars , and this was during the pandemic when it actually just hit.

We actually were in fundraising and then the pandemic hit. So, everybody was like, oh my God, we don’t know what this is gonna do with the economy. But we still managed to raise 1.5 million dollars. And then fast forward, we just closed a 4.7 million round. Which wasn’t easy, but I’m happy to talk more about how we went about it, what worked, what didn’t work, what I learned.

About Manatee

Dama Dipayana is the CEO & Co-Founder of Manatee. Manatee is a family-first, virtual mental health clinic, designed for kids living in the modern world. We’ve put our heads together to create the best mental health care for families.

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