Every time a startup gets funded through Fundsup, it’s a celebration for all of us. It’s also an inspiration and a reminder to other founders seeking capital: you are one connection away from closing your round. Today we chat with Nadia Kadhim from NAQ Cyber.
You can read a Dutch version of this interview on the website of our partner Emerce.
Congratulations on obtaining funding! How are you feeling?
Excited! And a bit relieved. As all startup founders will know, the process of fundraising can sometimes be slow and one often treads dangerously close to a negative bank balance. So the knowledge that we are able to continue building our product, growing our team and our business is incredibly exciting.
How did the journey look like from the moment you decided to raise funds?
We knew that we were going to start to raise investment around September of last year, but luckily we were able to bootstrap for quite some time. Having gone through a cyber acceleration program with the British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the summer of 2020, we learned a lot about fundraising at institutional investors or VCs, which is usually great for startups around the seed or Series A stage, but not so much for the pre-seed round. The overwhelming consensus amongst these VCs was that, though we had an interesting proposition, we were too early for them in terms of product development and traction. This is when I started to look into angel funding.
I had been reaching out to a couple of angel investors here and there, but didn’t really know if I was looking in the right direction. I heard about Fundsup at the beginning of 2021 because I got a cold email from one of the Startup leads at Fundsup, and it just seemed a lot more efficient than this outreach I had been doing. Why not let investors come to me, instead of the other way around? So we made a profile, which was very easy and incredibly quick, and a few months later, here we are being interviewed about our raise!
What is your strategy for fundraising?
We have taken quite a reactive approach, which allowed us to be efficient about our time. You often hear from CEO’s that fundraising is a fulltime job, and I’ve always felt like though fundraising is an important aspect of my work, I also had other things to do to ensure our business was running and growing whilst we were fundraising.
I used the Fundsup platform to update our pitch deck every month, including new metrics and traction. This allowed us to speak to dozens of investors and really choose which investors to pitch to; and which ones were less of a fit.
Rather than raising the full pre-seed amount in one go, we are taking a more staged approach, focusing our time on business development, and using the funds for investment in marketing.
I think the startup CEO idiom “always be raising” applies to me, but it will never be my sole job
What was the role of Fundsup in the process?
Fundsup facilitated every aspect of the fundraising process as I just described. We were able to take a reactive approach because we were being contacted by investors nearly every day, eliminating the need for me to go out and knock on doors myself. It allowed us to update potential investors and the investors that followed us in one-go by simply updating our profile. And because Fundsup screens every investor on their platform, we could ensure that the conversations we had served a real purpose and would never be a waste of time.
What’s the most important thing you learned during the fundraising?
Fundraising is about selling. You must be aware that you’re always selling yourself, your team, your product, and your moonshot idea. You must be a storyteller and convince investors that your values and ideas are not only innovative and creative, but achievable as well. But fundraising is also about being sold to. You must be happy with the person across the table, they have to add value that goes beyond money. You’ll be working with these people for several years, and it just has to be a good fit for all parties involved. That’s why you should always ask questions in return, ask for references and proof that these people will help you bring your business to the next level.
What was the biggest challenge?
For me, as a female founder in the cybersecurity space, it has sometimes been a challenge to get in front of the right people and be taken seriously when I do. It is not uncommon for me to be spoken to as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. The challenge is to turn this into fuel to push myself and Naq onto bigger and better things with our great team of new investors.
How are you planning to use the funds?
We have hired the first additions to our team; a customer support officer and marketing manager. In addition to that, we are investing in the improvement of our website, continued development of our product and Google advertising. Our main focus now is business development; increasing our traction and forming strategic partnerships with insurance providers and banks to help Naq Cyber scale and become the number one platform for cybersecurity and legal compliance in Europe.
Congratulations one more time!