Not speaking your language?

Show Me the Money!

Are you ready to raise money for your startup?

Leslie Mitts, Managing Practice Leader at the Wharton SBDC and Lead Advisor for the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, tells us that most entrepreneurs coming through her programs are focused on raising capital, even though there are higher priorities in many of their businesses. Since fresh dollars help drive the business engine, this is a natural entrepreneurial concern.

But are you ready to raise money?

Going to investors before you are really ready can damage your reputation and may actually hinder future funding efforts.

Team and a Dream uses a unique Fundability Diagnostic to help companies assess their strengths in four key areas:

Team - This is the most frequently cited attribute examined by investors. Many investors will invest in an A-level team and a B-level product, but not the opposite. Having your Seed Team nailed is crucial.

Traction - Showing momentum is a critical element to demonstrating progress and your ability to execute.

Perceived Pain - Do people really need your product? Why? Will they need it in the future?

Product Eco-system - How does your product fit into existing and emerging landscapes? Who else is out there and how big will this market grow?

Find out what you need to succeed and discover your roadmap to getting there. Take the quiz below to see how well you might expect to score with investors. For each of the four sections outlined above, see which hurdles you can clear given the current state of your business.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Only self-aware entrepreneurs should take these results seriously.


Part A:

If you or any member of your current team are not planning on being the CEO, give yourself two points and proceed to Part B.

If someone on your team IS planning to continue on as CEO, then you'll need to answer yes to both of the next two questions in order to score two points; otherwise, take a zero.

A1. Our CEO has significant, previous management experience in a startup or comparable operating environment (i.e. middle management in a large company doesn't count!) ( 1 point)

A2. Our CEO is able to rapidly assess and prioritize our work with the respect of the team ( 1 point)

Part B:

Score one point for each answer.

B1. Someone on my team has significant experience in the domain space in which we are starting the company ( 1 point)

B2. Our team understands and acts as if they understand the difference between tasks that are urgent, urgent and important, important, and none of the above ( 1 point)

B3. This team has terrific chemistry ( 1 point)

Your score (0-5) is your Total Team Score.

If you scored three or more, you pass the Team Hurdle.


Score one point for each item you can answer positively.

1. We have made a few initial sales and have positive indicators from the marketplace for additional sales growth ( 1 point)

2. So many good things are happening I am bouncing off the walls with excitement ( 1 point)

3. I have added a significant team member (besides myself!) in the past two months ( 1 point)

4. In the past two months, I received press coverage that would be acknowledged by my prospects as legitimate business coverage ( 1 point)

5. We recently have achieved a significant product or marketplace milestone (includes a single, initial sale) ( 1 point)

Your score (0-5) is your Total Traction Score.

If you scored three or more, you pass the Traction Hurdle.


Award your Team the number of points indicated after each question that you answer positively.

1. My product or service solves an important problem for a well defined group of people ( 2 points)

2. My product or service will be in great demand in the future in order to solve problems emerging from a new trend that has a large population of prospects ( 2 points)

3. My product or service takes advantage of newly available market forces (technology, demographics, societal). The result is an offering that will clearly appeal to an existing, well-known market demographic ( 1 point)

Your score (0-5) is your Total Perceived Pain Score.

If you scored three or more, you pass the Perceived Pain Hurdle.


Score the stated number of points for each item you can answer positively.

1. My product is unique in a clearly defined (i.e. I can describe the difference in one or two clear sentences) and useful way ( 1 point)

2. My product is patented or can easily be patented or I have another competitive barrier (e.g. trade secret, unique manufacturing process, etc.) that will make it difficult for others to compete directly ( 1 point)

3. My marketplace is well established but fragmented or my product has "category killer" potential because it is so unique to the market ( 1 point)

4. My marketplace is either very big (> $5 billion/year in sales) with clear room for a product like mine or is rapidly growing with well documented trend lines ( 1 point)

5. My marketplace is wide open and there are no competitors ( subtract 1 point)

Your score of (-1 to 4) is your Total Product Eco-System Score.

If you scored three or more, you pass the Product Eco-System Hurdle.

Now that you have completed the scoring, we shall take a look at how "fundable" your company is. Before we do, it's important to realize that this is a snapshot in time. If you are not satisfied with your score, there are plenty of things you can do to improve it. I've seen many of my clients make tremendous progress along these dimensions by extending their team, focusing on sales or tweaking their offering.


Number of Hurdles Cleared: None


If you received this score and hope to receive funding, then you have a lot of work to do. Perhaps you just know you want to start a business and are looking for ideas. If so, keep these criteria in mind as you formulate your plans.

If you already have a business concept, you should think long and hard about "re-conceiving" some elements of it to improve your scores.

Many perfectly good "lifestyle" businesses may fall into this scale ? you just can't get funding for them.

Number of Hurdles Cleared: One


Funding from your rich uncle may be possible

Number of Hurdles Cleared: two


Funding from family and friends network may be possible

Number of Hurdles Cleared: three


Professional investors will consider this, but you'll need to be prepared to explain how you'll address your gaps.

Number of Hurdles Cleared: all four


Put the finishing touches on your business plan and hit the funding trail!

You will have the best chances of success in fund-raising if investors see that you can clear the hurdles in all four areas.

NOTE: Team and a Dream offers a professional version of this assessment that offers additional detail and examines nuances that aren't possible to convey in a simple quiz. If you have an interest in the professional assessment, please visit us at http://www.teamandadream.com/contactus.htm

Contact Information:

Copyright (c) 2005, All rights reserved by Post Destiny, Inc. d/b/a Team and a Dream(SM)

As an advisor-builder with a sense of adventure, founder Skip Shuda has worked with numerous startups since 1983, including Destiny WebSolutions, which he founded in 1994. Destiny was named Startup Company of the year in 1998's Philadelphia Area Enterprise Awards. Destiny grew to $25 million in annualized revenues in 2000 and employed over 120 people. Today Skip enjoys working with technology startups and using his experience, lessons and tools to assist fellow entrepreneurs. He works with private clients as well as Wharton SBDC clients as a VIP advisor. Prior to founding Destiny in 1994, Skip worked as a software architect with data communications and object oriented database development firms. He also ran a successful consulting practice with clients that included The Vanguard Group and Unisys. Skip has spoken at numerous industry events and has been published and/or quoted in top trade publications on technology-based strategies. He has an MS in Computer Science from Villanova University where he specialized in artificial intelligence and natural language processing.


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