Show me the money
It’s early November 2020, and the Aboard team are about to set out on a dangerous and painful mission: fundraising. Reading probably more resources than was necessary, the team began building and honing a practiced company pitch, backup financials and materials, and the outreach efforts to connect and network with investment sources. If you’ve followed along our story, what we had at this time was an Aboard web application (pre-loaded with Foundations), some early beta testers, and an increasingly strong vision of our offering. While our fundraising efforts kicked off, another change was happening at Aboard.
After a fruitful 6 months of working together, it became clear that the long-term fit of one of the cofounders was not there. What followed was a very respectful “breakup” conversation where one of the founding members stepped away from the company. Considering some of the top reasons why startups fail includes “team disharmony”, the decision to make a team change was not made lightly. In many ways, the departure could have been more dramatic, full of rage and yelling, and could have had a much deeper impact and repercussions on Aboard. What the split was in reality was honest, transparent, and done as seamlessly and quickly as possible so everyone involved could move on with what’s in front of them. To say this was an additional stress while Aboard was simultaneously fundraising, engaging with customers, and building the product would be a (startup-level) understatement!
Team change aside, we were not successful in our end of 2020 fundraising goals. We learned tremendous amounts about the process, about pitching, and generally what we were (potentially) lacking to be a stronger investment target. We also got a deeper understanding of the numerous different investment avenues and types out there, and were happy to take a step back and pause fundraising efforts.
The question that lingers with the team is that of fundraise or bootstrap? Fundraising would mean ample resources for hiring, marketing, and ideally increasing the speed to certain milestones (i.e. product maturity, customer acquisition targets, etc.). Bootstrapping would mean retaining more equity and control over Aboard (for the founders) and doing things only when absolutely necessary and able (to afford them). The decision boils down to a question of control, capability, and speed. This is something that many individuals in the startup community have strong opinions about, and there ultimately is no right answer, just “what is the best thing for Aboard”. To simplify things, it brings the team great joy to build product and talk to customers, and so that is exactly what we’ll do!
Coming into 2021, at the time of publishing, Aboard has grown to a team of 7, including 2 advisors, the 2 co-founders, and 3 super talented team members. Our sole focus for Q1 2021 is to connect with customers, listen and learn as much as we can, and continue to build something of true value that meets a need (improving and managing new employee onboarding).
In concluding this post, we are in no way “done” our startup story. We are really at an early chapter in what we intend to make a long saga (with sequels, a Netflix movie, and potentially even an HBO series). I hope you enjoyed us shining some light on our story so far and that you’ll stay tuned into our many social media channels for future updates and posts!