This is the fourth story out of a collection of bi-weekly fireside chats which evolve as the business does. The theme is about the Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of bringing a multi-faceted startup to market into the “FINTech” space while at the same time building a runway for RAYL to become a Global “Challenger Financial Institution.”
I hope you have enjoyed the first three installments of “The Birth of a Unicorn,” where we have chatted about building the companies brand, vision, team, and a review of some of the management tools I have deployed at the early stage of RAYL Innovations.
But let’s talk about money…
It’s hard, and in a bazaar way, it’s counter-productive to running the business, because it diverts management’s attention from the task of building and selling stuff – and yet, obviously, without money, you don’t get to do much else.
I come at this from two sides as head of Investment Planning and Strategy at The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), bootstrapping numerous companies and running a public company on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV).
This experience is all in the Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT) sector. Still, honestly, I don’t think it’s very different if you are selling widgets or medical equipment. Actually, I know it’s no different because I have been helping a few companies in those verticals do the same thing.
So, well you might wonder, how have we been doing it? I joined the company a little way into the journey as CEO, and this was a bit of a reset. There was a bit of money in the bank and some semblance of a plan, but it was disjointed. The first task was to get the team on the same page, to align where we are going (Vision) and how we will get there (Mission) and what does good look like, and our KPIs.
Once that’s been done – and honestly, without it, you don’t stand a chance – building out the Investor pitch and proforma (Executive version of your P&L) is relatively quick and painless.
To keep refining and adjusting and reworking it to reflect what you know now, versus what you knew then. Don’t worry about changing stuff. Every month RAYL updates its Credentials and Capabilities deck AND puts it on our website for all to see the progress to demonstrate its evolution.
With your product development, sales, and marketing strategies in place, you can start to build out the Profit and Loss, you need to keep these as living documents, and they need to get tighter and more professional as you try to raise more money.
As I said, when I joined, there was some money in the bank but not enough to build the team and complete the product’s build-out. The company had exhausted the Family and Friends route to the capital, so we now talked to Professional investors, not to say that Family and Friends are not professional investors. Some of them were, but your parents tend to be a little more forgiving.
RAYL has the vision to go public quickly on the TSXV, earmarked for November or December 2021. We started to socialize the proposition, but we were pre-revenue, in Canada, FinTech, and wanted to go public. All this can excite a lot of people and also bizarrely narrow down interested parties.
We found a novel idea, Crowdfunding, and we worked with a fantastic team at Vested.ca. This was a quick way to bring in small amounts of money quickly, without too much management distraction, and smartly it gave us the shareholder base to qualify for a TSXV listing, a double benefit.
It worked. We raised the capital we needed, broke Canadian records for a Crowdfunding campaign and completed three rounds at 0.05 / 0.10 / 0.50.
We now had some press relations coverage, the material to present to professional investors, so time to go to the market to raise bigger chunks of equity capital. The price per share was now at 0.50, so we had momentum. To date, we have raised just under $2m CAD, and we have been staggeringly careful with costs and expenses, and with that, we designed and built out RAYL.Apptive.
The exciting thing is, your stock has value, and like us, you can leverage that. RAYL Innovations acquired our entire merchant payment platform for stock, saving cash to do a lot of the funky stuff such as AI and data analytics.
I would really like to make enough money to set up a ventures arm to assist some of the intelligent people and build out Canada as a force to be reckoned within the FinTech space. This is hard to achieve – but if it wasn’t, everyone would do it.
If you have any questions specifically about RAYL or being a CEO of a Unicorn in the making, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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