Ben Shares How Bindo, a HK and NYC-Based Startup, Raised US$1.8M
This interview with Benedict Wong was conducted and condensed by Selena Li of EntrepreneurHK.
Bindo, a Hong Kong and New York-based startup, raised US$1.8M in seed funding. We talk to Benedict Wong, Bindo’s VP of Business Development, about fund raising.
1. How did Bindo fund itself at first (friends/family/Jason’s own pockets)? How much?
Bindo was initially funded by the co-founders and their families. Once we released the Bindo POS, we became cash flow positive, which helped sustain ourselves. We have been bootstrapping from then on until we closed our first official angel round. One of our first angel investors was a wine & liquor store owner in Texas who hated all the POS (Point-of-Sale) systems in the market and was looking to build his own. He came across Bindo just as we had finished building version 1 of Bindo POS, and loved our mission and our product, and decided to invest. Other investors include Gary Vaynerchuk, Metamorphic Ventures, East Ventures, etc.
2. You ever wake up in the middle of the night worried about losing their money?
In the beginning, yes of course – probably multiple times a night! But once we got traction and really knew what we were doing, then the worries went away and we got our confidence up. The focus was more on building the product rather than about losing money…also because we were cash flow positive already.
3. Has it ever pushed you to work harder or slowed you down out of fear to know that it’s your friends and family whose money is behind it?
Not really, we work very hard at Bindo regardless of whose money it is. Investors’ money or friends and families’ money, it doesn’t matter. We just work on focusing on building the product, building our business, and helping our customers.
Bindo won the Startup Arena competition at this year’s Startup Asia Singapore 2014.
4. Okay, let’s talk about the outside investment. Why did you decide to raise money?
Having validated our concept and built a product that people loved, we decided to raise money in order to scale faster. There came a point at which we could no longer build everything and sell everything ourselves with a team of less than 10 people. We really needed get to attract new talent.
5. First investment. Where did this investor(s) came from?
First investors were Gary Vaynerchuk, a social media expert and hugely successful owner of a wine show and wine store. He made multiple successful investments in Twitter and Uber. Our other early investor was a wine & liquor store in Texas.
6. Now that Bindo has announced the fundraising, and I believe it was your first in terms of raising capital. Can you share what that experience was like? And were you nervous the first time you pitch?
It would be a lie to say it’s easy and we weren’t nervous but we tried to focus on the purpose of the fundraising and the value that our product brings. I think for those who are pitching to an investor for the first time, just be confident in your product and the purpose of you being there. Focus on that and you should be fine.
7. How much time it took (or how many days) have you practiced your pitch?
We took around a week to prepare the slides and a few more days to practice it. It doesn’t sound like too long of a time period but keep in mind, we sleep very little at Bindo.
8. What was your elevator pitch?
Bindo is a cloud-based iPad POS (Point-of-Sale) that enables online shopping for the end consumer. In a few months, we will be releasing Bindo Marketplace: a consumer app that aggregates all the stores using Bindo POS onto one platform, allowing consumers to purchase online from their favorite neighborhood store, and have it delivered. In doing so, we aim to close the loop between the online and the offline. As the network grows, Bindo becomes a real-time product graph, connecting brands, consumers and merchants.
9. What did you learn in this fund raising experience?
We learned that convincing the very first investor is the hardest. No one likes to be the first to invest in a little-known company. After that, it gets a bit easier.
10. One advice for entrepreneur who aim to raise his/her first outside money.
Be prepared to invest your own money and put ‘skin’ into the game first, even if it’s not a tremendous amount. Don’t just go out and ask others for their money. It shows other investors you have conviction in your beliefs and skill.