In this week’s #SixtySecondStartup, we spoke to Will Ross who is the Founder of Tendo, a skills passport for frontline workers. Will started Tendo to make frontline work more secure for employees and to make it easier for companies to hire, retain and train their workforce.
Our interview with Will:
What does your company do?
Tendo allows frontline workers to generate workplace credentials while they do their jobs, building a verified, portable history of skills and hours at the end of each week.
Why did you set up this company?
We started Tendo to make frontline work more certain. For the worker, this means improving their long-term economic security. For the business, certainty comes through having a loyal, dependable workforce and an ability to encourage employees to learn new skills.
What is your business model?
We bill businesses on a per user basis. This monthly charge is a way to offset the cost of workforce churn.
We think that there’s growth in this sector because:
Frontline workers remain offline. By bringing them online, visibility of supply provides a major step forwards. We also consider this workforce to contain a massive amount of untapped operational and creative potential – we aim to empower.
How did you get your first customer?
By building a feature that removed an administrative overhead for a training provider.
We knew we were onto something when:
When employees indicated that they would be motivated by having a trusted way to generate and retain a record of their work reputation.
Our most effective marketing channel has been:
Going to events where we can speak directly with decision makers.
The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:
Spending time marketing to cities where Tendo can’t have a repeatable physical presence.
What we look for when recruiting:
A willingness to experiment and an inclination to speak more in terms of immediate actions than long-term plans.
We worked with AIN because:
Angel Investment Network provide a clear way to signal company type to a list of investors, ensuring that angels can search for early stage companies where they can significantly influence growth.
Get started today and view pitches from a huge range of entrepreneurs around the world.
#BehindtheRaise with WeCoffee
We spoke to Ben Carew, Co-Founder at WeCoffee, about how to complete a successful fundraise, and also equally important, what not to do.
WeCoffee aims to provide flexible and affordable workspace for post Covid working, along with curated events.
Tell us about WeCoffee:
WeCoffee was created to make working from anywhere something anyone could enjoy.
By curating a distributed network of free and unique workspaces and a community you can cowork with online and in real life, we believe we are well on the way to achieving this.
Why did you decide to raise investment?
We decided to raise investment so that we could bring our unique and exciting model for coworking to the whole world. Something that mine and my business partner’s lifetime savings wouldn’t quite allow, at least at the speed with which we want to do it.
People often ask why the speed and scale matters and for us we see a window of opportunity, while the world’s ways of working are changing, to allow a better social norm.
We believe for too long the standards have been set by employers with outdated policies, or more recently landlords hijacking the term coworking only to supply fixed office space as a service.
We want to make sure that the future of work will give power and choice back to the worker, ensuring a happier and more productive worklife.
What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?
I’m going to be cheeky here and give a few:
- Angel investors are people not ATMs, understand them and make them feel confident and safe with you by treating them how you would like to be
- Be firm on your timeline, if you don’t have one set one
- Don’t be shy to check they actually want to invest, not just introduce you
- Treat it as near to a full time job as you can. Maybe 50% off the time, as yes you need to run a business.
- As soon as you have a yes, add them to the term sheet. Its less scary to follow someone else
- If VCs keep being really nice but don’t invest your probably too early. Save yourself the time and build more traction and try and do an Angel round or friends and family
- Be flexible in what your raising, if you get half can you make a business or the next step? If double what would you do?
- Don’t be scared to say no. We met one total **** who was incredibly aggressive, wanted to force a board member who was an ex-founder removed from the company by their shareholders for negligence, thought WeWork’s IPO would go through and that only 8 banks failed in the 2008 crisis. We were very happy to not molly his coddle
- Lastly join WeCoffee as there are lots of us on or who have been on this journey. We are more than happy to help one another avod the ****, find the right investors and generally navigate the startup world.
What attracted investors to your company?
You would probably have to ask them, but I think a big part of it was the total and utter passion that is born out of us as a team. We clearly know and love what we do, so if you believe in the idea that we won’t all work in an office 5 days a week, there is no better horse to back.
My biggest fundraising mistake was…
It took me some time to realise that I needed to run it like any other business activity, as a structured process. I spent months pitching at intermittent events and meetings waiting for my angel to land in lap not realising what I was doing was practising.
I was at the wrong events, with no real investors; and worse meetings with the wrong people who were more interested in introductions than investing.
Once I sat down, opened the round in SeedLegals, got all my deliverables in place, built a sales funnel and set a firm date to close the round then I was well on the way.
Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?
I used AIN as it came across to meet my target investors (angels), as it had a wealth of investors that I could filter for by sector. Insanely helpful!
If it wasn’t for you Angel Investment Network we wouldn’t have raised as much as we did.
Keen to hear more?
Try out one of WeCoffee’s online networking events to meet ‘creatives, marketing gurus, product creators, free thinkers, entrepreneurs, tech geeks, doers and dreamers’.
Sign up here.
ACA Shares Angel Perspective as the SEC Proposes Ways to Increase Capital for Founders and Investors
By: Pat Gouhin, Chief Executive Officer
The Angel Capital Association and the broader angel investor community were represented during the recent committee meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission to discuss vital issues that impact capital funding. The SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee met virtually on Tuesday, August 4 to discuss how to open the doors to US capital markets so that more Americans could participate as investors and entrepreneurs. The angel perspective was represented by ACA member and former Chair, Catherine Mott, BlueTree Allied Angels, who sits on the advisory committee.
Chairman Jay Clayton said the pandemic had exacerbated the need for “prompt and efficient” capital access, especially for underrepresented founders. Clayton said that minority-owned small businesses employ more than eight million Americans, but face challenges in accessing bank loans and are more likely to see non-traditional financing. Especially in times of stress, those sources become scarcer and more expensive. He said that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on small businesses, especially minority- and women-owned businesses, and that the failure of small businesses has a major adverse effect on the economy. So this is everyone’s issue.
Clayton also thanked Martha Miller, the SEC’s Small Business Advocate, and her colleagues for their work in constructing the Office of the Advocate and addressing challenges to capital access for minority-and women-owned small businesses. Clayton said that racism, bias, and racial injustice are at the forefront of the national conversation, and the SEC’s focus on diversity and inclusion “is of paramount importance.”
Martha Miller presented data on “Investing in Underrepresented Founders”. Minority businesses are growing, but have much less access to capital than white-owned businesses, which disproportionately limits their profitability. Investment yield rates of minority-owned businesses are very close to the national average. Gender has a major effect on access to start-up capital. Women got a lot less backing from VC, but women founders generated substantially more revenue per dollar of investment.
29.5% of angel investors are women, but only 11% of VCs are women and 71% of VC firms have no women members. The decline in small businesses during the pandemic has been disproportionately among minority- and women-owned businesses.
A challenge many entrepreneurs face is access to funding. SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce raised the question of whether the regulatory framework is contributing to those barriers. Peirce believes that Regulation Crowdfunding has not lived up to its full potential and is recommending that steps are taken to increase access. Actions previously taken include the proposal of increasing the offering limit to $5M and allowing the use of certain special purpose vehicles.
Peirce shared ideas during the committee meeting to make crowdfunding more attractive, including:
- Eliminating or raising individual investment limits for both accredited and non-accredited investors, and/or simplifying the calculation of individual investment limits
- Reducing current disclosure requirements while preserving investor protection, possibly by raising current threshold requirements for reviewed and audited financial statements and/or scaling reporting obligations based on offering size
- Eliminating the prohibition on advertising crowdfunding offerings
- Encouraging the involvement of intermediaries and increasing their alignment with investors by allowing them to receive carried interest or performance-based fees
Micro-offering exemptions for founders and investors to raise funds in their local communities was also offered as a solution. This would allow fundraising without having to hire an attorney, possibly as an exemption for offerings up to $1M.
Demo days were also noted as an important opportunity for entrepreneurs without pre-existing funding networks. The SEC has previously proposed a demo days exemption from general solicitation and Peirce posed the question whether that exemption is appropriately designed to let young companies showcase their ideas.
ACA will continue to keep our members informed with new developments.
#SixtySecondStartUp with Pharma Sentinel
We caught up with Rav Roberts, CEO of Pharma Sentinel to hear his plans for their new app, which makes it easy to discover if your medicines have unsafe side effects, give allergic reactions or have been recalled for safety reasons.
- What does your company do?
Pharmasentinel.com is a pioneering B2C2B healthtech, leveraging AI to provide our users with trusted, timely and tailored medicines and medical conditions (mental health, diabetes, skin conditions) news, information, alerts and related content such as video podcasts, live streaming.
We also give 10% of our profits to patient-support charities such as Bipolar UK & the British Menopause Society, as chosen by our users. We launch with our consumer app called Medsii (medicines information for me) in 4 weeks time, yikes!
- Why did you set up this company?
Our Chief Scientific Officer Nasir (a Co-Founder) used to work for the UK’s medicines regulator (the MHRA) and noticed a big gap in the market for timely medicines information, e.g. drug safety alerts & recalls, clinical trial results & opportunities.
I also suffer from Diabetes, as does my mother, and our research showed that 46% of the UK’s population (29 million people) take at least 1 repeat prescription for a chronic condition. It’s not all elderly people either, as 50% of women in their 40s do so.
- How did you get your first customer?
We haven’t yet , already we have many friends and family who take regular medicines lined up to try the app. It’s completely free to use and has a very engaging ‘Twitter’ style interface, so why not give it a go?!
- We knew we were onto something when?
When we realised the Total Addressable Market and Serviceable Obtainable Markets were huge; many people use Google (over 1 billion health related searches a day, but results include ads, links to blogs) and even social media for important medicines info, but that could contain wrong or misleading results; no one helps people by linking them to patient support group charities for help;
No one provides personalised, relevant, trusted medicines & conditions info via easy to understand push alerts. I have used our product in testing to warn me against drinking grapefruit juice with one of my medicines as it’s extremely dangerous!
- Our business model:
1. We launch with our consumer App called Medsii (Medicines information for me), which will collect 1st party data on users in a GDPR compliant way (side effects, locations, medicines/conditions liked, followed, shared, saved) and which already has its own data, e.g. clinical trial results.
2. We augment this 1st party data with 3rd party data, e.g. global side effects, pollution, diet, NHS data such as medicines usage).
3. Our data platform runs machine-learning algos to identify patterns and predict future events, e.g. the probability of a drug that has passed a phase 1 clinical trial eventually being approved, and roughly when.
4. We sell this data-as-a service to businesses, e.g. pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial analysts even companies like Unilever and Chanel (who will be interested in the skin condition data insight we’ve collected). Note that we also monetise our consumer App (subscriptions, in-app purchases and advertising (no drug ads though!).
- Our most effective marketing channel has been:
Without a doubt, Facebook. Not only are billions of a target customers there, but we can micro-target them with custom and lookalike audiences and even better, they have people who walk you through how to do it really well! (Fiverr also has some great marketers on there).
LinkedIn is really good for engaging with business people (for our B2B products) and Twitter is great for linking up with angel and VC investors, all over the world!
- What we look for when recruiting:
Passion, integrity, evidence of continuous learning (even following people on Twitter to learn more about a particular subject), desire to help other people less fortunate and ideally EVIDENCE that they’ve actually done it (e.g. volunteering to help the elderly or doing a fun run to raise money for breast cancer etc).. We run a very flat organisation and we were all virtual even before Coronavirus hit!
- The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:
So many really. I guess my biggest was in my first startup in San Francisco: We had a great product but I didn’t think about our go-to-market and distribution strategy, i.e. how to get and increase traction (users, usage) for our online gaming products.
- We think that there’s growth in this sector because:
Even before coronavirus hit, more and more people were taking repeat medicines for chronic conditions and with people living longer, this means several decades. There has also been a large theme about fake news on social media, where millions get their medicines info from.
But now with Coronavirus, people more than ever before want trusted, timely medicines and medical conditions information that is relevant & readable (unlike the patient information leaflets that come with their pills!).
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