How to Make a Funding Proposal?

Startup funding proposals help startup founders share an overview of their business and make a case for why they should receive funding.

Whether you are a startup founder, business owner, or corporate entrepreneur, your funding proposal is very important. After all, it captures your rationale for why people should invest in your idea and give you a lot of money.

In this guide, we explore what a startup funding proposal is and how you can leverage it to build momentum in your fundraising.

Startup funding proposals help startup founders share an overview of their business and make a case for why they should receive funding.

What is Startup Funding?

Funding refers to the money required to start and run a business. It is a financial investment in a company for product development, manufacturing, expansion, sales and marketing, office spaces, and inventory. Many startups choose not to raise funding from third parties and are funded by their founders only (to prevent debts and equity dilution). However, most startups raise funding, especially as they grow and scale their operations. This page shall be your virtual guide to Startup funding.

Why Do Startups Require Funding?

A startup might require funding for one, a few, or all of the following purposes. An entrepreneur must be clear about why they are raising funds. Founders should have a detailed financial and business plan before they approach investors.

1. Prototype Creation

2. Product Development

3. Team Hiring

4. Working Capital

5. Legal and Consulting Services

6. Raw Materials and Equipment

7. Licenses and Certifications

8. Marketing and Sales

9. Office Space

10. Admin Expenses

What Is a Startup Funding Proposal?

Startup funding proposals help startup founders share an overview of their business and make a case for why they should receive funding.

Simply put, it is a text document, PDF, or slideshow presentation which gives a complete overview of the company and its goals. Through the proposal, investors can understand the what, why, and how of the company and get a better idea of why you are looking to raise a certain amount of money. It also helps investors who like to remain actively involved understand whether the company is worth their effort or not.

Startup funding proposals help startup founders share an overview of their business and make a case for why they should receive funding.

How To Make a Funding Proposal?

There is a basic structure to every business proposal. Here are the four parts, in order:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Show that you understand your customers/clients and their needs
  3. Describe how your goods and services meet those needs and present your expected expenses and profits
  4. Persuade the bank or committee that you have the integrity to be trusted with the money.

You don’t need to start with blank pages, either. You can speed up the proposal writing process using pre-designed templates and samples.

Here is a short list of all the different points an investment proposal should touch upon:

1. Summary of your project:

Start the document with an abstract of your project and its purpose. It is the part that most investors will use to determine if they wish to continue reading. In it, make sure you discuss the key points that offer clarity to investors. You can include details of what your company does and how is it different from existing solutions to pressing problems. You may also emphasize the importance of your product in your industry and how it improves the industry.

2. Current performance of your company:

Here, you give a more in-depth overview of your company. Point out what you are doing, how you are doing it, and what you are building. List your current assets and liabilities to help investors understand your startup’s strengths and weaknesses. If your company is still at its ideation stage, pair the proposal with an MVP presentation. If you are at a later funding stage, it is also important to add a paragraph where investors can find out more about your financial reports.

3. Details of existing investors, partners, and team:

Briefly introduce existing business partners (including investors), their background, and the amount you have managed to raise from them. If applicable, enter the number of funding rounds your company has already been through and the amount raised. At this stage, you should also briefly introduce the existing team members, their background and skill set, and a link for those who wish to see their complete CV and LinkedIn profile.

4. Information related to the product market:

Mention the market size, obtainable market share, product adoption rate, historical and forecasted market growth rates, and macroeconomic drivers of the market you plan to target in the funding proposal. Briefly describe the results of your market potential analysis and showcase the potential to scale shortly, along with a sustainable and stable business plan. If your business is already generating income, make sure you indicate and break down your revenue numbers.

5. Operational feasibility:

Create an overview of the projected operating costs by splitting them into different categories of expenditures. Describe the assumed operational costs of your biggest competitors and how these translate into their growth (if applicable). Further, describe the challenges and limitations related to the technical aspects of your company and the team’s skillset.

6. Company’s current valuation, investment requirements, and expected returns:

Start by pointing out the current valuation of your company and list the sources that derive this conclusion. Make sure to get your company’s valuation done by a trusted third party. Based on the company valuation, describe the amount and type of funding you are looking to acquire and the amount of equity you are willing to give up. Now, give an overview of how the funds will be utilized by creating a generic overview of the next steps. Spend a lot of time on this one as it is the most important subchapter for investors.

How to Approach Product Design?

When it comes to the product design process, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

When it comes to the product design process, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. An entrepreneur must tailor the process to fit the business and functional needs of the project.

This article explores the concept of product design and outlines four widely used approaches to product designing. 

The only important thing about design is how it relates to people.” – designer, educator and author Victor Papanek

What is Product Design?

Product design is the process of identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem, and validating the solution with real users.

In simple words, product designing is creating and designing products that address a specific requirement and solve a problem. It provides a comprehensive understanding of what the final product would look and feel like and what problem it will solve.

Who are Product Designers?

Product designers are creative design professionals who use their abilities to develop digital products that address the unmet demands of users.

A product designer gets to wear multiple hats, which means your day-to-day will never look the same. As a product designer, you play the role of a problem solver, researcher, designer, product manager, data analyst, and marketer.

To create useful products, a designer experiment with and tests multiple versions of the same product. It helps a product designer identify improvements. Also, they understand the company’s products, user requirements, and production costs to execute high-quality product designs at an affordable rate. Usually, product designers work in smaller groups or independently to conduct market research and gather the information required to design a digital product.

Four Approaches to Successful Product Design

Designing a great product doesn’t happen overnight. An entrepreneur can take many product development strategies to reach a breakthrough design. Here are the different approaches to designing a new product.  

Traditional Business Approach

The traditional business approach considers two factors when designing a product — Will the product be viable, i.e., how does it benefit the business? What is the operational and technical feasibility of the product design? Using the traditional business approach to design, a company would identify a problem (or a set of problems) and then derive what the company thought it could offer as a profitable solution. 

The traditional business approach to product development strategy seems straightforward but doesn’t always bring success. It focuses on the how and what rather than the why. It doesn’t answer a key question, i.e., why does a customer need a product? The metrics for product design emphasized in the traditional business approach, namely viability and feasibility, are company-centric and inconsiderate of the consumer needs.  

Design Thinking Approach

Design thinking incorporates the user experience into the design process, moving beyond the simple look and feel of product design. IDEO founder Tim Brown popularized design thinking. He describes it as a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. 

One of the aspects of design thinking that makes it successful is the prototyping phase. Designers can help lower the risk of launching a new product by testing the product design with small groups of users throughout the development process. A prototype helps validate that the product is something a customer can understand and use and that the design is appealing before the product goes to mass production. 

Lean UX Approach

The Lean Start-up and Lean UX approaches take design thinking further, putting the prototyping process front and center. Lean start-up is an approach to starting a business venture that takes an idea, translates it into a product or service, measures how customers respond, and then takes the learnings to pivot or iterate. Lean UX takes that same approach and applies it specifically to design. 

This approach focuses on the human experience behind the design. The deliverables of the entire product development strategy are less important than the learnings the design process delivers. The core objective is to obtain feedback as early as possible to make quick decisions and improve. It’s a collaborative approach – as if the customer is designing the product alongside the company. The drawback is that this approach to design can ignore other factors related to development; Lean UX can lead to somewhat of a product design bubble. 

Good design is good business.” – retired IBM CEO Thomas Watson, Junior

Design Sprint Approach

The design sprint is a subset of the design thinking approach. There are five phases to the design sprint process that takes place on five separate days: Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test.

Design sprints focus on a small part of the problem, or one aspect of the design, rather than building a completely new product. The process allows designers to work with their customers in the prototyping and testing phases and to learn quickly – within five days – to continue to design a winning product. Design sprints integrate elements from the other approaches but with a more focused, disciplined aspect to product design. 

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when designing products is that design is for people. You must deliver the right features with the right user experience for the right people to achieve great product designs. Thus, define your target audience, then research their problems, and, finally, focus on building a product that solves those problems!

Five Steps to a Successful Product Launch

A well-planned product launch strategy can also help improve the company’s reputation.

So you have aced the task of identifying and developing a product you believe in. So, what’s next? Do you want to launch it to market? Well, launching a new product is no easy feat!

Countless new product and service ideas are conceived every year. But most ideas fail to succeed because they’re not brought to the market properly.

If you think having a recognizable brand name guarantees the success of a product, you’re most certainly mistaken. Many highly recognized companies failed the product launch step, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and Amazon Fire Phone.

On the contrary, other well-known brands have been a raving success with product launches, including Apple, Google, and Under Armour. Then there are brands we had never heard of before but suddenly became household names due to successful product launches. These include Magnum Icecream and FiberOne.

Planned Product launch strategy can also help improve the company’s reputation
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How to Conduct a Market Survey?

Whether you are starting a new product and want to estimate demand or changing an existing product and want to find out acceptance in the market for this product, a market survey is the best way forward.

You may have a great idea for a product or service, but before you go any further, first make sure there’s a market for it.

Quite simply, you must conduct a market survey.

Market surveys collect data about a target market such as pricing trends, customer requirements, competitor analysis, and other details.

Most marketing managers depend on market surveys to collect information that would catalyze the market research process. Also, the feedback received from these surveys can be contributory to product marketing and feature enhancement.

In this article, we explore the concept of a market survey and enlist the steps you need to take to conduct a market survey for your product/business.

Whether you are starting a new product and want to estimate demand or changing an existing product and want to find out acceptance in the market for this product, a market survey is the best way forward.
Continue reading “How to Conduct a Market Survey?”

The 8 Stages of Startup Funding

Acquiring funds for a startup can be done with the help of an eight-step funding process.

The information age has introduced a rapid increase in the number of startup companies. The brains behind these startups are either young graduates from schools and colleges or someone who left their corporate job to pursue their dream (well, majorly). Whoever it may be, funding a startup is a difficult task. Many people try to fund their ideas themselves, while others rely on external funding to satisfy their needs.

Acquiring funds for a startup can be done with the help of an eight-step funding process which involves different stages of startup funding. These startup funding stages are:

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Determining the Market Size of a Product

The two quickest and most common ways entrepreneurs use to determine the market size are the top-down and the bottom-up approaches.

One of the most important things to know before you even think about turning an idea into a product is the size of the market you’re going to be targeting.

You might have a great product, a cutting edge website, a well-trained and enthusiastic team, and customers who love your product, but your company might still run at a loss if there aren’t enough customers in the market to support the business

To avoid such a situation, professional entrepreneurs and investors conduct market sizing exercises before investing in a new business.

Don’t find customers for your product, find product for your customers- Seth Godin
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How to Know if a Product is Marketable?

You might think your product or service will sweep the market away, but without having a foundation of information about your customer’s wants and needs, you can’t know if your product will do well.

Thousands of new products launch every month. Yet only a fraction of those gets enough traction to be considered successful.

Knowing whether or not your product will sell is one of the biggest questions in marketing. You might think your product or service will sweep the market away, but without having a foundation of information about your customer’s wants and needs, you can’t know if your product will do well.

In this article, we explore the concept of product marketability and ways to know whether your product is marketable.

What Is Product Marketability?

Marketability is essentially a measure of whether a product will appeal to buyers and sell at a set price range to generate a profit.

Marketing techniques include public relations, advertising, trade shows, collateral production, and other functions such as product quality assurance and documentation.

Product developers should complete a marketability evaluation before attempting to market products. Doing so helps marketing managers and other executives determine whether the product is marketable in the current and future market.

4 Ways to Know if Your Product is Marketable

When starting a business one of the big questions you’ll want the answer to is, “How can I know if my product will sell?”

There are several ways to know if your product will sell before creating it. These methods don’t guarantee success but will dramatically increase your odds.

Conduct Market Research

Researching to determine if there is a market for your business is key to successfully selling your product.

We recommend you do some market research before devoting too much time and money to the business. Conducting market research can help you learn how many consumers or businesses could use the product. Once you’ve determined the demand for your product, ensure that it can be made and supplied at a low enough cost that your retail pricing is affordable. It can also help you assess your competitors, which will exist regardless of how unique you believe your innovation is.

Listen to the Market

If you are in the business world, you need to accept that customers in the market determine the fate of your company’s success. Customers have the final word when determining whether an item is purchased or not. Getting to know the market before you begin selling your product can give a clearer outline of what you will experience.

Once you have a better understanding of the market you are about to dive into, you can make better business decisions on how to approach the market.

Your target customer should serve the base upon which all other concepts are built. After all, your consumer determines your product’s success.

Test Your Product

Some of the biggest companies test their products before introducing the product to an entire market. You can create a prototype and begin with small testing either online or in select stores. It will help you answer questions to a degree that research may not. Getting customer feedback can help you tweak your product or idea before mass producing something that might fail.

If your target customer enjoys your service and offers good feedback, you know you’ve got a marketable product.

Find the Right Price

One of the most impactful product marketing tactics is pricing. Product price gives your product a status (affordable or high-quality), an audience (based on disposable income), and competitors. Use your product, audience, and competitor research to identify the perfect price point for your product, considering product costs and profit margins. Keeping up with market trends will help you determine if you should raise your lower your prices.

The key to determining your price is that it needs to sustain your business. If you price your products at a loss or an unsustainable profit margin, you will find it challenging to grow and scale.

There are other important factors that your pricing needs to account for, like how you’re priced in relation to your competitors, and what your pricing strategy means for your business and your customers’ expectations. But before you can worry about anything like that, you need to make sure you’ve found a sustainable base price.

The Product Manager Roles

The product manager is in charge of determining a product’s marketability and is ultimately responsible for its success in the market. In terms of determining the marketability of a product, the product manager’s responsibilities include product conception (product market and market research), product development, product launch, product sustaining, and product discontinuance.

Wrapping Up

People often laud entrepreneurial risk-taking. Indeed, starting a business requires a leap of faith. However, it is important to remember that people who took a risk and lost it all tend to keep their failures to themselves, and thus we only hear about those who have succeeded.

We recommend that you start your own business only when you’ve done your research and are confident you will succeed instead of underestimating the risk involved in starting a new business.

How To Take an Idea from Concept to Market?

To take your idea from concept to market, you must prepare to invest time and money and factor in some determination to turn your vision into reality.

If you’ve moved past the ideation and conceptualization stage of business, you have moved on to the business development stage. You’re ready to start manufacturing, marketing, and selling your product or offering your service.

While many people believe that coming up with an exciting idea that you believe in is 90% of the work done, reality often deceives expectations. The hard reality is that coming up with an app idea is easy, and figuring out what to do next is the hardest part.

However, the magic is in the execution.

To take your idea from concept to market, you must prepare to invest time and money and factor in some determination to turn your vision into reality. But if you’re struggling with where to start, this article will help you get going. So read along!

Innovation, creative or new idea concept are the first step before reaching the market.

Steps to move your product concept out of the ideas shed and launch into the marketplace:

1. Conduct Market Research

The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Without conducting market research, the chances of your business failing at the first point of contact with your customer increase greatly.

Conducting market research can help you learn how many consumers or businesses could use the product. It can also help you assess your competitors, which will exist regardless of how unique you believe your innovation is. We recommend going offline and conducting real-world market research to nail this first step.

2. Connect with customers

Knowing your customer in a wholesome manner is prominent to having a strong customer base. As an entrepreneur, you must know what your customers want, their preferences and desires, what they are looking for, and their purchasing behavior.

Maintaining an enhanced customer base will build confidence and loyalty in them for the brand and give the company free marketing in terms of word of mouth.

If you are a retailer with no online presence, consider setting up a web store as another way to capture sales and connect to the clients. Consider engaging with your clients through emails and social media campaigns.

3. Profile your customers

When designing a product, it is easy to get caught up in your passion for the idea and become disconnected from those who will ultimately buy the product. Understanding your customer will help clarify your design parameters, what features add value, and which are just adding costs.

Anything that helps you get closer to understanding your customer is useful. It’s great to think out of the box as well. Your ultimate goal must be to make an abstract concept of your customer into a real person with wants and needs.

4. Leverage social media

Social media is one of the strongest tools in the business development strategy. Numerous social media platforms allow sellers to reach their potential customers and the masses.

By implementing a comprehensive social media strategy, you can ensure social media works as a driver of new business that positively promotes your service offerings. However, to best leverage social media, it is important to understand your customers and identify the channels through which they prefer to communicate. Instead of using social media to sell your product, use it to give away your knowledge, industry trends, and insights on the preferred platforms, and focus on building a relationship with your followers.

Legal due diligence can refer to intellectual property (IP) rights as well as product compliance and safety testing. It is possible to carry out a certain amount of due diligence yourself, but at some point, you will need to spend some money to make sure your product does not infringe any law, is itself protected, and can be legally sold in your target market.

Most third-party testing houses will give you free advice and a list of legal testing requirements that you will need to pass to launch your product.

Draft a business plan and execute it with a business coach.

6. Market Your Product

Marketing is the process of getting the right goods or services or ideas to the right people at the right place, time, and price, using the right promotion techniques and utilizing the appropriate people to provide the customer service associated with those goods and services or ideas.

You must prepare and execute your business plan.

A business plan forces you to clarify the strategic plan for business growth.

It consists of the answers to some key questions – how to get your product or service into the hands of customers who are your target market. Will you do it yourself, or will you outsource manufacturing? Who is going to physically transport your product to customers? What are the methods of distribution: retail, online, and/or catalog purchases? Who will sell it: you, in-house sales staff, independent reps, telemarketers?

7. Launch the product and research future market opportunities

Launching the original product is the most exciting part of the process, but the work doesn’t end here. Apart from marketing, an entrepreneur should look for other opportunities in the market. Is there a way the product may be useful for another audience? Are there improvements or expansions that should be considered for the line? This method of continuous innovation is what turns a single creation into a global product line.

How to Identify Product-Market Fit?

Product-market fit happens when you have successfully identified your target customer and served them with the right product.

The term product-market fit can be baffling for new product managers. The phrase sounds great in theory, but in reality, it is also one of the most misunderstood notions. 

Hopefully, this article will be able to answer some of the questions surrounding product-market fit for you.

What is Product-Market Fit?

The most simplified definition of product-market fit is in the name: your product fits into the market, is where it is supposed to be, and you grow your business because of it.

Product-market fit is when your customers become your salespeople. In business, it is a magical moment when three things happen:

  • Existing users recognize your product’s value.
  • They tell others about their great experience with the product.
  • Your company replicates the excellent experience for the new users.

After all, the end goal of likely every business is to provide enough value to customers that they become your advocates and help you grow your customer base.

Product fits in Market when customers becomes your sales people, users recognize your product and share their product experience.

Signs of Product-Market Fit

Product-market fit refers to a situation in which a company’s target consumers buy, use, and tell others about its product in sufficient numbers to keep it growing and profitable.

Product-market fit happens when you have successfully identified your target customer and served them with the right product.

Here are five indicators to identify product-market fit.

Understanding Customer Needs:

Your target customer should serve the base upon which all other concepts are built. After all, your consumer determines your product’s success. Learning the needs of your customer takes time and experience. If you don’t know your customer, you won’t have much luck figuring out the product-market fit. Developing a deep understanding of the problems facing your customers enables you to relate to them better and ultimately helps builds trust and credibility. 

User Retention:

One of the best measures for determining if you have achieved the correct product-market fit is the retention rate. If your clients abandon your product after the first use, it indicates that it has not attained the necessary degree of customer satisfaction. The higher the turnover rate, the lesser the chances of finding the proper product-market fit.

Similarly, if your target customer enjoys your service and offers good feedback, you have found the perfect product-market fit. If your product is retaining at least 40% of the customers over a long period, you have a strong sign of Product-Market fit.

Bounce Rate:

The bounce rate is the percentage of people that view a page of your website or social media (say, your home page) and then depart without any action (such as registering or starting a free demo). Traffic analysis is a regularly used measure of bounce rate. The bounce rate is derived by dividing the total number of visits by those visitors who did not take further action (i.e., visitors who just looked at one page). After that, the real number is expressed as a proportion of total visitors.

A high bounce rate typically indicates that the product is not attracting visitors, whereas a low bounce rate indicates that the visitor’s expectations are met and that the product is giving a nice first impression to its visitors.

The easiest way to attain product-market fit is by building credibility.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Referrals:

The easiest way to collect direct consumer input about a product is to utilize Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS is a questionnaire-based survey that allows you to learn what customers think about your product, including what they like, dislike, and what improvements they would want to see.

It is a metric that measures how likely your customers are to recommend or promote your product to their friends, colleagues, and family. If your product referral chain grows every day, you’ve found the ideal business strategy.

NPS has become an important performance indicator among marketing and customer support teams. If your customers are rating you well, it means your product is having a good run in the market.

Establish Credibility:

The easiest way to attain product-market fit is by building credibility. The best way to build credibility is to offer up a story. Customers want to know how your product or service will make sense for them, and the easiest way to do this is to inject their needs into your brand’s story.

While there’s nothing more engaging than a story, there are other ways to further establish your credibility.

The major one is being involved in your industry.

Publish all types of content for your market, write guest articles for industry blogs and magazines, and show your prospects that you know what you’re doing.

Trust is critical for establishing credibility and increasing the lifetime value of your customers.

How do you take a business idea to market?

The process of conceiving an idea to seeing your product on the shelf can be very long and most inventions take years to come to fruition.

Introduction:

Everything begins as an idea. However, when it comes to turning a business idea into a marketable service or product, many entrepreneurs struggle with where to start. Maybe you’re struggling with how to sell your product or service, or you’re afraid someone will steal your idea. Wherever your challenge lies, the magic is in the execution. You must be prepared to invest time and money and factor in some determination to turn your vision into reality.

This article explores the concept of a business idea and streamlines the process of turning an idea into reality.

Proven methods and easy to start business ideas to make a successful business.

What is an Idea?

An idea is a thought or collection of thoughts generated in the mind. Ideas often form during brainstorming sessions or through discussions. Although all world-changing events and great success stories can be traced back to a single idea, don’t fall into the belief that having a great idea is all you need. If you have a great idea, you’ve only completed the first step of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Now you need to work on turning that idea into a reality by taking it to market and letting your business change the world.

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