Editor’s Note: To follow up on NASONI’s recent press release, Steve Waddell sent an email thanking people who’ve helped him along the way. We asked to publish it exclusively on StartWheel as an inspiration to other entrepreneurs. He obliged.
To add a little context, seasoned entrepreneurs know that building a company has its ups and downs, to be sure. They also know that opportunities rarely manifest out of thin air. More often they’re the result of deliberate efforts by the founding team.
Steve’s journey to funding illustrates this point. For example, hadn’t he risked time and money for a shot on Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch (skip to 8:28)—and lost—he would likely still be holding NASONI up by his bootstraps. So, while the story takes a surprising turn for the best, success was most certainly the result of Steve’s perseverance and tenacity.
Steve was relentless in finding creative approaches to bootstrapping. He applied to, participated in, and won countless startup competitions like Start Peninsula and 757Pitch, resulting in tens of thousands in non-dilutive startup capital. He used each win to help fund progress, and as additional validation that he was working on something worthwhile. Not to mention the exposure and publicity.
We congratulate Steve once again on achieving yet another milestone with NASONI.
Email sent by Steve Waddell, President & CEO of NASONI
December 4, 2018
I can finally make this announcement. It took a few months to get through all of the legal documentation, but I am very happy to report that I just closed on our first SEED round of investment – $600k for 25% of the company. If you watch Shark Tank, you know that that’s one heck of a deal when you’re pre-revenue!
We just finished tooling, and I’m heading to China in 2 weeks to visit the factory before we go into certification testing and then production. Exciting times! It’s been a long time coming. For any entrepreneurs struggling at times, they might find this story interesting. This is how it came about. It may help others.
I did the live call for Shark Tank back in June in DC (skip to 3:38 in the video below), and was selected to move to the video submission round, but didn’t go beyond that. There are 40,000+ people that apply for Shark Tank every year now.
I also applied for another show, an online show called Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, and I flew to California back in March on my own nickel to pitch (about $2k). If you haven’t seen it, the concept is, you get on an elevator and have 1 minute to convince judges to open the elevator doors and complete your pitch. They either give a thumbs up or down depending upon the pitch. Keep in mind, I have won most of the contests I have entered, but they actually gave me a thumbs down because I didn’t show the product or mention “the ask” (which I had planned to do after they opened the doors). They actually titled the kickoff of Season 2 after ME, that I “BROKE THE CARDINAL SIN”. You can see it here (skip to 8:28):
Suffice it to say that I was extremely frustrated that I flew all that way at my own cost and didn’t get to pitch, and had to keep reminding myself that things happen for a reason. But what could the reason be for this?
Turns out, not long after they released this season, Marcie Posey saw it. I hadn’t heard from her in quite some time, but she was Reed Integration’s Small Business Administration (SBA) rep in Richmond probably 5 or 6 years go. Reed Integration is my wife’s company that I worked for before going full time with NASONI October 2018. Anyhow, after seeing that I didn’t get a deal, she called a friend of hers named Ben and said “You have got to meet Steve”. Ben owns a company called IndieDoGood, and has received financial investment from my investor company. So to make a long story short, Ben calls me and basically did a phone interview, and then scheduled a follow-up call with this investment company. Both calls went great, and the investment company said that if we are to go any further, I needed to come to Minnesota (where they are located) and let’s meet in person.
Becky and I both flew to Minnesota in August, as neither of us have had any kind of vacation in probably 4 years, and we stayed at the JW Marriott (so I could pitch the hotel on the faucets, LOL) at the Mall of America (awesome place!). The next day we spent the entire day, from 9am-6pm, meeting and presenting to Otten Associates. Then Ron and Sue Otten (investors) invited us to dinner at a great restaurant on Lake Minnetonka so they could get to know us. We stayed for 3 hours, walking their city after dinner, stopping for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and enjoying some great fudge at another little store.
We met again for another ½ day the next day, and things went great. We pitched our offer, and we had a follow-up telecom a week or two later, and reached an investment agreement. It has taken all out 3 months to go through all of the legal documents, etc. Our agreement was signed yesterday and the investment was put in a trust as it signed was after the deadline for the wire, but it will be wired to my account today.
The irony of all of this is, had I not done the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch show, and had Marcie not seen it, NONE of this would have happened. So keep in mind, many times things happen for a reason. You may not understand it at the time, but it will come clearer over time.
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