How We Raised Funding from Facebook and Our Community Members | Published in HBR
Read about Network Capital’s fundraising approach in this HBR article written by our founder Utkarsh Amitabh
Exactly a year after quitting my job at Microsoft to nurture my side hustle full time, I found myself working in a small village in the mountains of Lebanon. The country had plunged into deep economic and social crisis. I was left stranded with no electricity, fuel, and internet for days. My mobile hotspot was patchy, but as luck would have it, one call came through from an unknown number.
It turned out to be the coordinator from Facebook’s (now Meta) community accelerator program.
I had first submitted my startup Network Capital — a global mentorship and career advancement platform used by more than 150,000 millennials — to the program back in 2018. At the time, it was still just a passion project. We were 25% of our current size and got rejected after the first few rounds.
But now, things were different: We had a thriving business model and city-based subgroups around the world. The accelerator program would provide us with the funding and strategic support we needed to strengthen our business and launch new initiatives.
“Congratulations,” the coordinator said. “Network Capital is one of the 13 communities from India we have selected for our program.”
I was ecstatic. With this new opportunity in place, I could leverage the positive energy to accelerate our growth. It also struck me that this was a moment that I could leverage to engage our community more and cement the trust our users had shown in us.
I decided to reach out to them and ask them to help us raise additional capital. While you might think “that’s just crowdfunding” — an approach where anyone from anywhere can invest in your business or cause — this was more nuanced. I’d like to call this approach “community-based funding.”
How is it different? Friends and family may loan you money because they want to show you their support. People on platforms like Kickstarter may donate to your cause because they see potential or are excited by your idea. But when your community members invest in you, it’s because they have observed your performance, believe in your purpose, have seen you deliver on goals consistently, and find value in your product. It can be pretty validating!
Read more about
How I did it
Community-based funding as an option
Figuring out the right funding model for you
in the Harvard Business Review article!
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