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Raise VC in Silicon Valley as a POC woman

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Like the world grows more and more digital, the desire for face-to-face connections is increasing. Squad, a community and application only by invitation, is trying to meet the need for offline connections by selecting closely linked events for Generation Z and Millennials.

"It mimics building relationships in real life," says founder and CEO Isa Watson.

It is an idea that investors are already supporting: Squad Close a $ 3.5 million seed round and plan to raise its Serie A in early 2020, but the road to secure that round was anything but easy. During a conversation about the How I Raised It podcast, Watson shared the ups and downs of his unique path to fundraising.

Establish credibility for a few years before fundraising.

She started putting some of the capital earlier in the business herself with the support of her family. He then worked on more than 200 meetings in Silicon Valley to increase his credibility as a founder, a step he cannot emphasize enough, before Squad even began his official seed round.

"Despite the fact that I went to MIT, despite the fact that I managed a billion-dollar product at JPMorgan Chase and even built a great digital product, it was still a Silicon Valley stranger," says Watson.

People sometimes have the perception that being a former student of one of the best universities in the USA. UU. Meaning they can go to Silicon Valley and just be "inside," Watson explains, but that's not how it works.

"It takes a lot of work and a lot of credibility," she says. "That's what I was doing for a few years before we made our official seed round. When I did it, it was as if my reputation preceded me and there was enough familiarity with me.

Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Squad

Do not do the work of dissemination in cold: only warm presentations

Despite taking more than 200 meetings in his efforts to break Silicon Valley, Watson never had a meeting.

"Cold reach is a tactic that I see that many founders use," he says, "while I will say that the most effective introduction comes from someone who knows someone."

Taking advantage of the connections it built was essential to connect Watson with its eventual funders. "Everyone is referring you to the next three people to talk," says Watson. "It becomes branches of trees and then a network that grows in a multiplicative way."

One of Squad's first investors was Steven Aldrich, who was currently working as a product manager at GoDaddy. . Both Aldrich and Watson grew up in North Carolina, and Steven's father shared his hometown's roots with her, which helped her establish the initial connection.

"It was about making connections consistently like that," she says. Steven introduced me to three people, and then those other three people introduced me to two people. And that's essentially how I rolled the ball. "

Not all meetings have to be about coffee or lunch meetings, since Watson also received many calls while expanding his network. But the important step was to make those connections, which was "very hard and heavy work," during the first two years.

It's very specific when you ask for advice

When he met with people in Silicon Valley or expanded his network of potential donors, Watson did not make fun of future funding rounds or send vague meeting requests.

When trying to develop your network, you first investigated a couple of key things: who did you need to know to build a really strong product and who did you need to know to have a solid distribution or growth marketing? Once you identify those people, you will contact them individually and ask them for specific advice in their area of ??expertise.