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Founders Fundraising: Nauta

We sat down with Alexander O'Neill, co-founder of Nauta, to talk about their recent funding round, and lessons learnt during the process.

How much did you raise?

Nauta closed its $500k Pre-Seed round in May 2022 and is currently in the process of kicking off a targeted $1.0mm Seed round (as of January 2023).

How long did it take you to raise the round?

The entirety of our Pre-Seed process – from the very first fundraising outreach through formal closing – lasted approximately 8 weeks with around 90% of the raise closing in the first 5 weeks. We hope to beat that timeline in our Seed round!

How many investors did you approach?

For our Pre-Seed, we reached out to 65 potential investors with stage breakdown provided below

  • Informal Initial Contact – Held Off on Process Inclusion: 7

  • Contacted – No Response: 2

  • Contacted – Sent Pitch Deck with No Subsequent Response : 6

  • Contacted – Stated not a Fit but Asked to Keep in Touch: 5

  • 1 st Meeting Scheduled – Fell Through: 2

  • 1 st Meeting Held – No Subsequent Progress: 4

  • 2 nd Meeting Scheduled – Fell Through: 1

  • 2 nd Meeting Held – No Subsequent Progress: 1

  • Closed Investors: 12

  • Formal Close Investors: 10

  • Post-Formal Close Investors: 2

  • Passed – Expressed Inclusion Interest but Declined on Formal Outreach: 7

  • Passed – After 1st Meeting: 9

  • Passed – After 2nd Meeting: 5

  • Passed – Doesn’t Invest in Pre-Seed: 4

Who ultimately invested in the round?

Our earliest investors are a combination of high-net-worth angel investors, friends, and friends of friends. Most work within the finance industry with the connection tied to our time at Tulane University or post-graduation social networks based in New York City.

What value do your investors bring other than the capital?

Given the nature of a company at the Pre-Seed stage (usually a well-thought-out idea with little to no material traction), investors are almost always investing, primarily, in the Founders first, business second (given the typical lack of material traction homed in on in later stage rounds). This was certainly the case for Nauta and, given that, our early investors have provided continual support to my co-founder and I even as we pivoted the business model several times – never wavering in their belief in us.

What were the biggest hurdles in raising the round?

Our largest challenge was the lack of a heuristic gut feeling as to whether we were approaching the process the best way. You can read as many fundraising books and founder articles as you want, but at the end of the day, whenever you’re attempting something complex for the first time, it’s easy to feel a bit lost or uncertain. This uncertainty delayed our timeline to get started with the raise, as we lacked a comprehensive understanding of which aspects of our preparation were truly necessary. What we learned, however, was that the only way to overcome this challenge is to dive in and start our investor conversations.

Any advice to founders raising a round in this space?

Fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint. Even though it feels great in the moment seeing that first investment hit the bank account, you quickly realize you’re not at the finish line, and the stakes are raised even higher. By the end of the raise, at least personally, I found I’d grown to actually enjoy fundraising - only aided by a

growing confidence in the business and direction we were heading. Simply put, a Founder’s job is never truly done regardless of the valuation or stage – learn to enjoy the journey and keep at it.


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