In the startup space, money is power. If you don’t have money, you can’t start a company. There are some people that make it work, but it’s not just a nice idea. I’m privileged in that I’m in my late twenties and don’t have any dependents, which means that I can choose exactly how I spend my money and time—I can make my own schedule and work to the bone if I need to without having to feed anyone else or take care of anyone else.
How have your conceptions of financial stability changed since starting this new venture?
If I’m being completely candid, if there’s money in your startup, if someone has invested and you can afford to work on it full-time, that’s such a big difference than if I had started Fluide by myself with very little savings and access to capital. Working with a partner who was putting money into the business and fundraising, having that business partner who had that allowed me to come in and work for a very reduced rate but roughly cover my cost of living—this was a wonderful opportunity and privilege for me.
Another thing that I realized later than I’d like to admit is that when you’re a team of two, there is this tendency to kind of separate things out and say “you focus on social media, I focus on marketing or finance”—or whatever. But you both are responsible for the success of the business. Some of my strengths are building brands, art direction, social media, communications, and those are all wonderful things and some of our biggest successes to date. But if you can’t come up with a sustainable business model, then it’s all for nothing—you’re just playing house. I realized that if I wasn’t contributing to creating a sustainable business model then we couldn’t do what we are doing. In the last six months, I’ve taken on a bigger responsibility in making sure that I’m prioritizing endeavors that bring in sales. I still do creative and other stuff, but if we don’t have sales, partners, distribution—we can’t keep doing what we’re doing.
How have you been raising capital?
We did a friends and family round, and right now we’re in the process of doing a little bit more friends and family, and possibly an angel round in the next year, but we’re still fundraising. Unless you have an existing investor network, it really feels like you’re trying to puncture a sphere that you aren’t in at all.