In April this year, I launched Neek Capital, a pro bono service offering free advice aimed at Black founders of early stage businesses in the UK. The experience has been instructive both in its successes and its failings – I will be using these to evolve the service reflecting what I’ve learnt so far. The 2 main findings are as follows.

Finding 1: One month is not long enough to have a significant impact

  • Juggling the help I was offering with my own full time employment and the schedules of founders proved challenging
  • It took a month in total to create a strong enough mental picture of the business to comfortably be able to provide advice
  • In the end I spent 3 months working with the first startup selected (May – end of July) rather than working with 3 startups in 3 months
  • Solution: From now on I will take companies on for a 3 month period

Finding 2: Lots of action is not necessarily correlated to maximum impact

  • One of the first things I did for the company I helped was build a crude operating model (we can put this down to ex Investment Banking bias….)
  • I quickly realised a few things
    • At this stage the business model was not well defined enough for the model to provide any meaningful clarity
    • Although creating the model felt good and was of some use – I wasn’t fully equipping the founders with the skills to maintain this model
  • I felt that walking the founders through the thought process behind the model and (thus the business) across multiple calls was much more helpful
    • i.e. prompting them to think about how different aspects of their businesses were interlinked and about the relationship between revenue and costs
  • Also more useful than the modelling process was helping the founders craft the narrative that they planned to present investors and define what they thought made their business unique
  • Solution: Focus from day 1 on strategic questions and skills that can persist without my presence in the future – modelling may form part of this process but is not obligatory

The revamped program

In all I have really enjoyed working on Neek Capital for the past 3 months and am looking to begin working with another promising startup. In this light I am re-opening the application process – for which you can see the details below.

What is Neek Capital:

Neek Capital is a service primarily aimed at UK Black Founders in the early stage (seed or pre-seed for now). I am undertaking to provide my services / advice for free to 1 founder/company for 3 months every 3 months to help in the areas of strategy and finance (note NOT accounting).

My experience:

I have extensive experience in the world of finance, fundraising and strategy. I spent 3 years working as and Investment Banker and have spent the last year working in Business Strategy for a high growth startup. These are skills I believe are of great use to early stage founders who may not have the knowhow to put together a model, or a pitch deck or even evaluate their business plan in a rigorous / objective way.

How to apply:

  • Every 3 months I will open applications to the general public and receive applications for help
  • Application should be sent to me via email at neekcapital@gmail.com
  • Applications will contain
    1. Business description: Including if relevant
      1. Name
      2. Number of founders
      3. Funding raised
      4. Product / market description
      5. Thesis – Why you think the business will work
    2. Description of the type of help requested
      1. Specific requests are good
      2. Please keep these within the areas of Strategy and Finance examples include:
        1. Help putting together business plan
        2. Help making an early financial model
        3. Help determining the size of the market
        4. Help looking into go to market strategy
        5. Help making materials for a fundraise
        6. Help choosing which investors to reach out to
  • I will decide which founder I am helping and communicate with the other founders who I unfortunately won’t be able to work with
  • Please note that all help will be provided in partnership with the business founder
    • At the end of the day it is your business and I will need your input over the course of the months to make something useful and tailor it your needs

Applications are open now! I hope to decide which founding team I will be helping by September 8, so please send them in.

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