If a great idea is a rocket, venture capital is the fuel. And if you have both, the sky’s the limit!
In the last episode of our 4 part “Starting a Start-Up” Miniseries, our host Rob Hanna hears from Guy Stern, Founder of Legal Connection about how to put together a compelling pitch deck, how to get in front of investors pre and post COVID-19 and why Guy opted for crowdfunding for his upcoming seed-stage investment round.
[0:00:00.0] Rob Hanna: Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast powered by Kissoon Carr. I’m your host Rob Hana. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Guy Stern for the final Minisode as part of starting a start-up miniseries. So, welcome back finally, Guy!
[0:00:16.7] Guy Stern: Great to be here. I’m going to miss these weekly sessions.
[0:00:19.7] Rob Hanna: Me too, me too. It’s been a great education. I’ve loved hearing about your journey particularly with Legal Connection. And today, as part of our final Minisode, we’re talking about getting funded. I think as to quote yourself, “If a great idea is a rocket then the capital is the fuel” which I absolutely love.
So, when is the right time to start raising?
[0:00:41.7] Guy Stern: It obviously depends who you ask. If you ask investors, they will say, “Don’t start raising until you got a great product in the market, working and making money, don’t bother us until then.” There is some truth to it obviously, but I do think that the sooner you put together a pitch deck and start sharing to the investors, the better. And the reason I say that is because when you create that first pitch deck, and I created the first one back in 2017 on nothing but an idea. I had very simple stupid idea, which was an Uber for law. I had done very little research and knew nothing about start-ups, but I put together a pitch deck because Start-up bootcamp had a competition – start-up competition.
And I landed up getting in the top 40 and landed up getting in the top 20. And before you know, I was pitching this deck to big investors who were poking lots of holes in it and also giving me lots of great advice. So, start raising as soon as you think that you might have a good business idea.
You’re not going to get money straight away, but it’s a good way of getting good feedback from people who do invest in your industry. And the feedback you’re always going to get at first is, “This is not going to work, this has been done before. You’re wasting your time, go back to your day job.” You’ll have lots of people telling you that you’re going to fail and that you shouldn’t even try, including investors and they’ll give you lots of reasons. And it’s up to you to take it on the chin, to also listen to the advice, and if someone says, “These five other products would do the same thing as yours.” Just sort of reshuffle your thoughts and say, “Well, how could that be different?” and so on. So, I hope that answers your question.
[0:02:13.2] Rob Hanna: Very much so, very much so. And a large part of it is like you say is around mindset and making sure you stay positive and take on board feedback and don’t let that be the end of the journey. So, you’ve had a very successful journey. How did you manage to get Antler VC to fund you at pre-seed?
[0:02:28.6] Guy Stern: Yeah, that’s a good question. I was sitting in South Africa when the first user started using my product. Well, she kind of broke it quite quickly, so she used it and it broke. And then I fixed the bug, and then she used it again and it broke. And then I had this sort of moment where I could just see it sort of catching on.
She was inviting her friend who was inviting her friend, and I thought, “This is the time to apply for and accelerate the program with one of these VC accelerators.” I also told you that I’ve been to London before. Legal Geek conference happens in London. I think there’s a bit of a legal tech base over there.
Why don’t I google London accelerator programs? And I found an A to Z of London accelerator programs. Believe or not the first one I clicked was Antler because it started with an A. I applied for them and I got in. Then I also applied for B for Bethnal Green Ventures, I didn’t get into that one.
But it wasn’t that I pinpointed them or specifically wanted Antler, but it’s been an amazing journey and I’m really lucky that I applied, and I got in. I think 2000 people apply every year and they pick a handful.
[0:03:30.6] Rob Hanna: Congratulations. That’s a really good story. In terms of going to the next level then, why are you going with Crowdcube for you seed round?
[0:03:40.0] Guy Stern: The honest answer is we didn’t manage to raise our seed by VCs, so, you know, Antler are pre-seed which means they give you enough money to sort of build the first version of your product, and they then have a big demo day. Our demo day happened in London in February. We got lots of business cards of seed stage venture capital firms, you know, lots of coffees that we had in February and sort of going to March. And then you know what happened in March. All those coffee meetings dried up; a lot of those capital firms wanted to change their outlet goblets.
Maybe they just wanted to support their portfolio companies and so on. And so, Stephen and myself looked at what our other options were. And we visited Crowdcube. We just thought, you know, this is a way that we can get in front of lots of investors, without having to meet them for coffee, they can watch a video of me explaining the product.
If they like what they see they can get in touch, and you know, through the network they can get those introductions, one invites the next invites the next. And it’s working really nicely. You know, we’ve been live in the private launch for two weeks. I’ve shared many times my LinkedIn and someone will see it, like it, they’ll invest.
They’ll then either write a comment or they’ll post in on their LinkedIn timeline, someone else will see it, watch the video and so on. It’s kind of like magic almost. You see one person invite the next person and then – the other night for example, someone I know shared it and ten minutes later we had someone invest two thousand pounds.
They only just watched our video, they never met me, never had a conversation with me but all those two thousands and all those one thousands helped us get closer to our goal which is set to one hundred and twenty thousand and if we get goal then the seed round goes through basically, that’s how Crowdcube works.
[0:05:23.2] Rob Hanna: Awesome. And so, as we look to wrap up this fascinating series. What can people do if they want to invest in this?
[0:05:32.6] Guy Stern: Okay, cool. Yeah, so this is where I get to say my little sales spiel. if you want to invest in Legal Connection, we are going live on the Crowdcube platform shortly. We are already in private launch meaning, if you either click on my name Guy Stern or on my start-up name Legal Connection through LinkedIn, you will see that I’ve already posted the link.
You can go to it; you can watch the four-minute video. If you like what you see, you can go there and click the button and you can just do your interest in investing. We’re actually trying to get about a hundred people that have registered their interest, and we’re trying to sort of show that we’ve got about 75% invested already on the day that we launch.
So, if anyone is interested in legal tech, if anyone wants to invests in a legal tech company if it’s going places, please do click on that link and go to Crowdcube register your investment or you can also contact me and I can take you through the demo. I must also add, and I think you must also add, for legal reasons, your capital is at risk.
You know, this is an investment in a company you can lose your money in and so on. All of those warnings will be on the Crowdcube website as well. And also, please reach out to people likely to use Legal Connection for your law firm, for yourself, for your legal network, for your panel, inhouse, etcetera, etcetera.
And Robert, thank you so much for having me on the series, it’s been so much fun.
[0:06:46.5] Rob Hanna: It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and giving some real strategic insights into how starting a start-up could be made possible even more so in the tricky space of the legal sector. So, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. Wishing you best of luck with Legal Connection, Guy. And no doubt we’ll speak again in the future.
But for now, over and out.
[0:07:05.5] Guy Stern: Looking forward to it mate. And I’m looking forward to having you on my podcast one day. I think I’m inspired, I always wanted to do a podcast.
[0:07:13.6] Rob Hanna: Do it, do it. Like the idea, just do it.
[0:07:16.1] Guy Stern: I probably just like the sound of my voice.
[0:07:19.2] Rob Hanna: Good stuff. Cheers Guy.
[0:07:22.5] Guy Stern: Okay, brilliant stuff. Thank you. And thank you Hannah and team and yeah, shout out if you need me.
[Audio Ends] [0:07:27.9]