Fundraising is, first and foremost, a way to keep the lights on, make some key hires, and continue building our startup, Iodine, into something like a company. But it's also a rite of passage, signifying that our hunch was right and our strategy sound. It's validation that we've performed well enough so far to be given the chance to create something really big.
As I draw up spreadsheets of likely investors and put meetings on the calendar, I'm reminded of the many things I dread about fundraising, beginning with spending hours on traffic-choked 101 from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. But there are also many things I'm looking forward to, including free advice and feedback from keen observers of what works and what doesn't. Most of all, I'm itching to tell the story of Iodine up and down the Valley.
The story, it turns out, is the most important thing. It can't just review what we've done; it must also excite the imagination about what the world will look like once we do more. It won't be enough to present a plausible, worthy case for our future--our story must convince people that it's worth millions of their dollars to see that future happen.
Like every company making a pitch, we'll tell that tale in about 20 slides and 20 minutes. Considering that we've been at this for two years now, this will require a great deal of editing. Entire chapters of our story will be left out--there will be no mention of those computer-vision and machine-learning skunkworks projects, or the weeks of teeth-gnashing before we bet the company on mobile.
Some slides are obligatory, like the "competitive landscape" map that makes every other company in our space look doomed, and the hockey-stick graph that shows our growth starting at zero and moving quickly up and to the right. Many slides are plain math, demonstrating that we've thought through a problem or opportunity, and have fixed on the best path to significant revenue.
But that still leaves about a dozen slides with which we can spin our yarn about what the world looks like now and what it will look like when we've executed our vision. The Iodine story goes something like this: Every day, medicine fails people--people in real pain, mentally and physically--because they are given prescriptions that, research has shown, are unlikely to work for them. So we're building a way to reduce the odds of this happening, by helping people monitor their experience and decide if a medication is working for them, and extrapolating from that to understand which drugs work best for which populations. It's a story of a less wasteful and more humane health care industry, more attuned to the experiences of real people and better able to learn from those experiences, faster.
We think it's a pretty compelling story, and, it turns out, it's one that is consistent with the pitch we made a year and a half ago, when we raised our seed round of funding. Eighteen months later, we're still fixed on the same problem, pursuing the same data- driven solution.
What has changed is that there's less conjecture to our story today and more evidence. But we've also put 18 months of angst and effort behind us. We really want to solve this problem. And we think we'll be able to, with just a few million dollars in financing. That shouldn't be so hard, should it?
Wish us luck.