Raise funds on trust, says Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front – TechCrunch

Startups need capital and often raise funds from investors. It requires a pitch, numbers, stats and a story. And the time must be correct. The key to timing is simple, according to this CEO: fundraise when your confidence is high.

Every week on TechCrunch Live, investors and entrepreneurs share lessons learned from their personal experiences. And Mathilde Collin, CEO and co-founder of Front, knows all about fundraising. It has raised $138 million in venture capital through several fundraising rounds, including from Okta COO and venture capitalist Frederic Kerrest. They talked about several topics, and the entire TechCrunch Live event is available on YouTube or via podcast.

Timing can make or break a fundraiser, and Collin advises seeking outside investment when you’re feeling good — like you, the founder, are feeling good. Unfortunately, this sometimes doesn’t match your company’s numbers.

“You might have hired someone amazing,” she said. “You just signed a really big client – all of which makes you super confident in the future of this business.”

Why? According to Collin, investors are very good at assessing whether a founder is genuine in their motivations, which revolve around confidence and enthusiasm for the company. This means that she always starts introductions with why she does something, although it gets more complicated as she progresses.

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Frédéric Kerrest agrees, noting that as an investor he wants to spend his time with caring, motivated and interested people.

Collin says that each time she raised, she assessed investors based on the needs of the business. Then, when it came to Front’s Series C, she turned to several operators who could provide capital and an insider’s perspective on the industry and corporate advice.

Front turned to Sequoia for its Series B, which Collin says continues to come in handy. Yet as her business grew, she says, she felt the need to “reinvent the wheel. She turned to those she felt had been in a similar situation before and could give her advice. It turned out to be a string of industry leaders like Atlassian’s Michael Cannon-Brookes, Zoom’s Eric Yan, and Qualtrics’ Jared Smith – and yes, Frederic Kerrest.

These are all people who, according to Kerrest with a laugh, get their hands dirty running, building and growing businesses.

“There’s a lot of value you can get from institutional investors,” Kerrest said. “We at Okta have been fortunate to be supported by well-known companies – Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia and Greylock. They will bring a lot of networks. They will bring a lot of ideas on how to grow. They will bring a lot of ideas on advisers.

But there’s more to building a business, Kerrest said. He pointed to building a sales team or when to expand internationally. Like the CEO of a much larger similar company, operators can help with critical steps.

And it also doesn’t become more predictable as the rounds progress. Collin thinks the founders are wrong, saying that as the company grows, fundraising becomes more difficult.

“You have to have good reasons for [fundraise],” she said. “I think it’s because the scale of everything you do is greater; the impact is greater, if you’re wrong it has more consequences for your employees, your customers and others. So it certainly doesn’t get any easier.

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