How They Funded It: Your Friends with a Truck, Ben Jackson and Harrison Proffitt, on Raising Seed Capital
Have you ever been stranded at Ikea with way too much stuff to take pack into your Prius? You should have used Bungii.
Bungii is a ride-hailing app for pickup trucks. You take a picture of what you need hauled, and a driver comes to pick it up and move it for you. Ben Jackson and Harrison Proffitt founded the company as students at Kansas State University.
As young entrepreneurs, they didn’t have the personal funds on hand that most entrepreneurs use to fund their businesses (learn how other Kansas City entrepreneurs fund their endeavors.) Their first attempts at bootstrapping were mostly unsuccessful, but a serendipitous run-in with wall of potential investors helped them secure their first round of seed funding and launch their app.
They’re here today to share five tips on talking to investors and getting funding. You’ll have to download the app if you want them to pick up your new couch.
1. Practice your pitch
Before Ben and Harrison ever sat down with an actual investor ready to give them real money, they scripted out every second of their pitch, practiced for hours on end and entered (and won) a few pitch competitions to help them hone their craft.
Ben explains how public speaking is about more than just natural talent: “You watch people who are really good at speaking in front of large audiences and think, ‘I wish I had what they had.’ But the funny thing about that is that you don’t see the work and the hours they spent beforehand getting everything down.”
Investors want to know that you have a worthwhile solution to a big problem and that your team can execute, perfecting your pitch helps you communicate that confidence. If you can’t make them believe that you can give them a solid return on their money, time and resources, then your pitch doesn't stand a chance. For more information on crafting a pitch that is engaging, memorable and effective, check out “How to Pitch to the Sandbox.”
2. Be teachable
Being teachable means that you can receive feedback, acknowledge it respectfully, process it wisely and then make smarter decisions based on what you’ve learned.
Harrison and Ben believe that being teachable is vital during conversations with investors:“You’re going to get objections, all the time,” shares Harrison. “We made it a point to never argue. Because if you argue you seem hostile and it looks like you’re not coachable.”
This same principle carries over into building a relationship with an investor, which can be mutually beneficial. Ben knows there’s a lot to gain from investors with years of experience in your field. “Listening to what they’re saying can help you along the way; it can help you avoid barriers and pitfalls.”
3. Be ready for any question
If you deliver your pitch over and over in front of friends, strangers, judges and investors, you’re going to hear the same questions a lot. This is an invaluable learning experience that Ben says you should take advantage of.
“We wrote down the top 25 questions or objections that we thought people would have. Then under each one we wrote word for word what our answer would be.”
A question the Bungii co-founders got very often was, “What happens if Uber decides one day to start offering a similar service to yours? Wouldn’t they eat your market in a heartbeat?”
Ben was always ready with a response that potential investors could agree with. “Right now Uber is really focused on international expansion and autonomous driving. With all of the resources headed in that direction, we don’t think they’re going to be looking at this market.”
Do you have questions about Bungii’s business model or the direction they’re headed? Go to the original Facebook live video and throw your questions in the comments.
4. Be confident about your financial projections
Well-founded financial projections give investors an idea of how big your market is and how much of it (in what sort of time frame) you believe you can capture. But as Harrison explains, “Financial projections are never right. You know that, and investors know that. But if you’ve done your homework, and you’ve done some due diligence, that’s going to show.”
Before Bungii actually launched, Ben and Harrison spent a summer in Manhattan, Kansas, testing out their idea. They launched a makeshift program that allowed customers to beckon Ben and his pickup or Harrison and his jeep with a trailer attached. Between hauling sofas and stacking boxes, the team kept extensive notes on where the customers were calling from, their apparent demographic and the details of the trip.
This experiment came in very handy when they talked with investors about their financial projections because they could extrapolate from their summer of hauls how a bigger market would function.
5. Be ready for the next steps
After an investor signs a check, they want you to hit the ground running. Bungii knows exactly what they’re focused on next: getting customers. As Ben explains, “The difference between good companies and great companies is their customer acquisition model.”
The Bungii app is currently available and being used across Kansas City, but they still have work to do to nail down their ideal customers.
“Bungii is applicable in so many different industries and spaces—from apartment complexes, realtors, estate sales to consignment stores,” shares Harrison. “We have so many different avenues for potential customer acquisition that we have to find the right three to five channels. Right now we’re building a playbook to scale to other cities.”
If you need a friend with a truck, give Bungii a try. If you like it, recommend it to a friend. You’ll win doubly—you don’t have to fuss with a burdensome haul and you get to support Kansas City entrepreneurs.
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