Well, we're a little over a month into looking for funding for Mowser, and so far we've come up empty handed. We incorporated in January and got the legal boilerplate paperwork ready to accept money, started hitting up our contacts and now a month or so later most of the leads have run cold. This sort of thing may take time of course, but it's pretty obvious that we're not on any sort of fast-track to getting investment, so I figured I'd write about it here.
Now, to the best of my knowledge, we have all our proverbial ducks in a row. We've got a site with millions of mobile page views a month, with an actual business model and actual earnings. We're in mobile, which in theory is "hot" and we're here in the Valley which in theory is the right place to be. We've got the right experience and a decent plan for the future, and enough contacts to get us meetings inside some of the top VC firms around.
But that's about as far as it has gotten.
There's lots of reasons for this, but in general it boils down to the fact that we're not selling the idea, the company and ourselves in a way that's getting people to pull out their checkbooks and sign. I'm honestly not sure how to make it happen. Almost every day we read about new startups getting funding - it doesn't matter what the company is doing really or whether they actually have any sort of real business - they've been able to sell themselves and/or potential and we haven't. It's as simple as that really, so we're just going to have to keep trying until we figure it out.
That said, there's definitely a bit of Valley myopia involved as well. Miker and I joke about converting Mowser into a "contextual advertising social widget startup", since you know, connecting every website on the planet with every mobile phone doesn't seem to generate the buzz that you'd think it would. Maybe we should get t-shirts. Anyways...
So now we're looking at what the next steps are beyond what looks like a trickle of never-ending meetings with contacts or potential investors. The first goal is to simply figure out how to continue to grow Mowser by ourselves so that it can pay for our expenses, etc. We'll need to at least double, and better triple our traffic. We'll do this by continuing to improve the product, adding new features to get more return visitors and continuing to look for publishing partners. We definitely have a time limit for this before we run out of cash reserves, but I think we'll make it.
We may also end up having to start getting crazy in terms of guerrilla marketing to get our public profile in the Valley a little higher though. Spray painting our logo on the window of the Apple store in downtown Palo Alto is what first comes to mind (a friend suggested I get on the local news)... but I probably need to find something a little more legal to do instead. Like crashing industry parties and applying stickers to unsuspecting Macbooks. We'll see. (Feel free to add your ideas, legal or otherwise, below...)