Although I was late, I showed up to LFDW 2016 on the second day just in time for the Fashion Business Series. I got there at 10am not knowing what to expect, but honestly not expecting much. Maybe another long boring exchange between fashion and business ‘pioneers’ flattering each other and not bringing you, the audience, any closer to achieving your own dreams. However, to my surprise, Lagos Fashion and Design week woke me up. I learned about all the various resources that are out there to help entrepreneurs and the different creative sectors that need new talent. I met young creatives living out their dreams and pushing the envelope, and that woke me up to look past Nigeria’s current economic troubles.
LFDW 2016 BUSINESS SERIES TOPIC: BEYOND FASHION
WHAT TYPE OF INVESTOR DO YOU NEED?
The series started off on the topic of creating value and receiving funding. Straight to the point. We all have dreams, goals, visions and what not, but the majority of us lack the funding. One of the panelists brought up the use of angel investors, which derives from a Broadway tradition of theater veterans grooming and investing in entry-level talent. On that thought he accentuated that similarly, one would have more chances of finding in an investor within their business sector; as investors primarily invest in people and not only businesses.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THEM?
Another panelist brought up the importance of creating and maintaining relationships with potential Investors. As we have already learned, angel investors invest in people, so nurturing relationships with investors increases your chance of investment. Like many, the first question I asked myself was, “yeah cool but where do I go to find these people?” and eventually, the panel answered me. When you meet people at events such as this business series, launches, and other gatherings within your business sector, interact, exchange cards, follow up with them and talk to them about what you are doing. It will not be an overnight process, but gradually update them on your progress and eventually, the more you put into your business and the more successful or the more potential your business develops, the more attractive it looks to an investor who essentially wants to see how dedicated you are to the business.
WHAT DO INVESTORS LOOK OUT FOR?
Once you have gotten their attention, they would like to see where the funds are going. All the panelist agreed that mitigating the alignment of interest by showing your own investments in the business and bringing forth a plan where the majority of the funds are going towards producing your product is a major plus. No, they most likely not fund your company car budget. In addition, they are also looking for a 1-2 page summary of the business and what you need, a pitch deck that contains graphics, images and charts, a business plan, as well as yourself.
YOU MATTER JUST AS MUCH AS YOUR BUSINESS!
Investors want to see your passion and profound understanding of your business. However, one thing they emphasized really stuck with me, industries will always have success stories and failures. It is not to say that failure is the end, to the contrary, it is a learning opportunity and the best time to prove to yourself that you will not be defeated.
ARE YOU BANK READY?
I really do not like Nigerian banks, however, after this panel discussion, I began to look at them differently. The Sterling bank representative asked one question, are you bank ready? The honest truth is that many of us are not. We have been running businesses for years using our personal accounts, exchanging cash and not passing it through the banking system, sending that cash directly to suppliers and the cycle begins again. Eventually what that leaves you with is a corporate account that shows poor and inaccurate revenue streams and essentially an unattractive account for banks willing to give you a loan. Which is why they begin asking you to bring land, bring guarantors and all sorts of different collaterals.
RESOURCES YOU MIGHT FIND USEFUL
NESTA + British Council
Super Startup Account
- No charges for 3 years
- Helps you register your business name for N18k
My One Business Platform Grant (aka free money)
- 5 winners
- up to N6Million per winner
- Promotes Nigerian made products
- They can help connect you with angel investors, venture capitalist and other types of investors.