Week 14 – A month of clusterf*ck behind the scenes, but raised funding

This post is part of the Building It series where I share my journey building a startup, Amygda. Published weekly and as transparent as our customers, investors, and partners would have us be (read: legally allowed).

The past few weeks, well 4 to be precise, 4 freaking crazy weeks. A lot has happened, and yet there are lessons that I learned and some funding news to share.

Hoping my parents aren’t reading this. Because the past 4 weeks were a clusterf*ck!

That’s what most startups are anyways, going from one mess to another, spinning enough plates and trying not to drop any. Well, at least that’s what I am going through.

So if we aren’t meant to be spinning many plates, do let me know someone.

First, a note on fundraising

The good news is we have a lead investor. And the Managing Partner is someone I have really enjoyed talking to and working with. At pre-seed stage I really want to bring folks onboard who I can work with.

Not just advisory kind, but folks I can talk to openly about. So I am pleased to bring the VC onboard.

There is a small amount still outstanding in this pre-seed round, so if you’d like to invest please do reach out to me (faizan@amygdalabs.com). Oh, and we do have the full allocation of SEIS split available. Would make a great team with angels or early-stage VCs.

There was one accelerator-investor that I so wanted to have onboard, but I was unable to make that happen with everyone involved.

Honestly, not making it work with them was the hardest thing to walk away from. It was also a lesson in what happens when you agree to take investment. Good folks though. And I hope I don’t regret it. Well, I have to now work harder, to make sure I don’t regret it 🙂

The next update is on customers

Enterprise customers, don’t you just love them?

If you are a founder in B2B space and dealing with enterprise sales, be prepared for slow cumbersome progress on discussions. We average about 1.5 progress meetings a month.

Obviously, that means you have to speak to lots of prospects.

And in the current climate, it’s a tiny bit harder than usual. Covid-19 has screwed up the confidence of businesses.

This is probably one aspect that I want to really plan out. The challenge is that there is a clear customer segment we have. But also a customer segment where we need to educate why they might need our product.

With future customer segments, it’s harder to have them get the ‘Aha’ moment. I don’t know how other founders overcome this issue.

And please don’t reach out to say don’t focus on them, just focus on those who get the point. I know that, but everyone does that. It’s the easy thing to do.

The hard thing to build a new customer segment altogether. That’s where I feel we can also differentiate.

If you have any tips on this aspect do reach out! I am keen to hear and learn about this.

Because, well, I am not a salesman. And the world of sales is bizarre!

So what are the objectives of the final quarter?

Ah well, now you sound like our investor friends.

But we do have objectives. I hated objectives when I was in a corporate gig. Now that I run my own, I realize I still need objectives, but without them, I will go mad with all the things we need doing.

Here are our Q4 2020 objectives (see, I told you this blog is all about transparency)

  1. Sign customer contract with one of the biggest transport companies in the UK
  2. Deliver airline trial via v1 of the product demo in Dec 2020 (for 2021 contract)
  3. Explore 3 new customers via the go-to-market partnership with a large multinational
  4. Finish version one of the product by Dec 2020
  5. Hire a full-stack developer by end of November 2020 (yes, we are hiring)

Ultimately these 5 things matter. Well, there are 2 more things, but I am not allowed to mention them, even vaguely. So let’s move on.

So what about the best bit? Tell us about the clusterf*ck bit you mentioned at the start!

Ah yes, the ever-lovely readers of the blog. In for the spicy bits!

The past 4 weeks, I haven’t written a blog. Because things were really hard. We walked away from an accelerator-investor, which at our stage (reminder: pre-seed) is a hard move.

That episode was emotionally draining.

I am a founder, but also a husband, a dad, a son, and a brother.

But unlike everyone else, as a founder I am self-centered. The rest of my family has to put up with my emotions of high and lows (there is no point lying, there are highs, and lows, and then there are sucker punches)

So when I am going through a lot, some of it is shared with them too. And you can see the toll it takes on them. Entirely created because I was navigating through a scenario where there is no right or wrong answer, there’s only a definite answer.

It took me a while to make a decision because I was negotiating for a long time. So close to making it happen, but alas it was gone. We walked away.

In the middle of this, my tech co-founder decided to leave Amygda. No hard feelings, he wanted something more secure at this time. And a deep-tech startup clearly wasn’t going to be risk free for 24-36 months.

It was a sucker punch. It wasn’t just a low point, it was gut-wrenching.

But after 3 days of hiding myself away from society, it was time to move on and figure things out. So we decided to hire externally ( the rest of us know one another from previous roles at Rolls-Royce).

And that’s how this job of full-stack engineer came about. Please do apply if you are based in the UK or Bulgaria (remote).

So walking away from an investment, and losing a core team member at the same time was a clusterf*ck of emotions.

All clear though now. And working on the objectives of finishing the year on a high.

However, ultimately what matters is persistence.

And if there’s one thing we are pretty good at is being persistent and taking on the hard challenges. It’s so much fun. Getting up from sucker-punch is nice. And if you are planning to be a founder be prepared, because the world throws a lot of those at you.

So what’s happening next?

We build. We keep building.


. . .

What do you think of this week? Let me know via messaging me on LinkedIn or tweet me @faizanpatankar. I love talking, just mention you read my blog.

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