Growing a business can be challenging in such uncertain times, especially when you need to raise capital. Simon Ingleson, CEO of RosterElf, an Australian-based start-up out of Perth in Western Australia, shares his experience raising money for RosterElf amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
RosterElf is a cloud-based staff rostering system. It has four core elements of functionality for small or medium businesses, including managing staff availability, building and communicating rosters, tracking time and attendance, and payroll integration.
The complete staff scheduling software has seen tremendous growth over the past year as it takes on global competitors. As a result, RosterElf managed to raise capital amidst a pandemic. Despite their rapid growth, they focused on raising money based on the business’ current life stage.
Simon explained, “In the early days, we were bootstrapping as much as possible. Then, we started with small initial funding rounds to develop the business model and generate customer revenue. More recently, we’ve closed a significant investment from a private investor.”
Closing the capital raise was a proud moment for the Perth based startup. Simon explained it’s a win-win for both parties and is an excellent partnership that will support RosterElf long-term. Instead of chasing investors for money, Simon recommends working on discovery to attract the right attention.
For Simon, the goal has always been to continue doing what RosterElf does best and land the right press to attract investors. He explains, “Ultimately, you want the right people involved and guiding your business. If the investors don’t understand your vision, they won’t give you the time and support.”
When asked how we would recommend companies position themselves for discovery, he explained, “Focus on staying top of mind to keep everyone updated with what you’re doing. If you do that and focus on your business, you’ll be surprised with the power of networking and word of mouth.”
Despite COVID-19, the economy in Australia has done exceptionally well. Interest rates are low, and stock markets are operating well above average. So, for Simon, raising capital during these unprecedented times wasn’t more complicated than other times he’s tried.
With interest rates low and inflation fears devaluing cash holdings, investors are looking for growth companies for their investments. Simon explained that the following 6 to 12 months are likely to be some of the most accessible times to raise capital for the foreseeable future.
He also noticed that now more than ever, people don’t need to meet with founders face to face. Simon is in regular contact with people interested in investing or talking about opportunities with RosterElf worldwide.
Aside from Simon’s approach to contacting investors, he also accredits his success in raising capital to not paying himself a salary from the business. Simon says, “Until a start-up business grows, there’s not much value without the founder.”
He also suggests that showing your resilience and dedication to investors is just as important as your product. You need to have a market, show that you know what you’re doing, and have the skills required to scale when you’re starting.
Of course, RosterElf’s innovative features also helped to reach their investment goals. From the start, they’ve proven they can compete with top companies in the workforce management space. Simon has always made sure to show investors that they are hitting well above their weight.
The second element that helped was a proven product. Investors could read Google reviews, do independent research, and see what users think. Having live customers paying money and using the service helped secure funding.
The third element was that RosterElf operates in multiple countries and is scaling very fast, a clear benefit of the SaaS operating model. And lastly, they had just signed a partnership with ClubsNSW. ClubsNSW represents around 1200 venues across Australia.
The ClubsNSW program involves developing a white label version using the core IP of RosterElf with added functionality specifically for the Clubs industry. For RosterElf’s investors, it was exciting that they had two explicit business models.
Furthermore, Simon says, “I encourage anyone raising capital to think about the different business models or revenue streams you can develop. But remember, you can’t do it all at once. So, create a clear three to a five-year strategic plan with a few different options.”
RosterElf, the magically simple software, is just getting started. Simon explained, “We’ve got an exciting journey ahead. We’re hiring the right people to grow, and we’re launching to new markets, and the ClubsNSW product is in the final stages and will soon launch. So, we’ve got a lot going on.”
With the recent round of funding, RosterElf is focusing on executing and meeting its goals over the next two years. If they can hit those, the future of RosterElf is looking very promising.
Original Question Framework
- Capital raising in a post COVID world
- Basic RosterElf Intro
- Give us a brief overview of your startup / capital journey
- How did you navigate raising capital during COVID?
- How did you find reaching out to investors during COVID?
- What do you think led to the success of raising capital during COVID?
- Were there elements of the RosterElf business that helped you raise capital in the current market?
- What are your top 3 tips for someone raising capital in a post COVID world?
- Do you think COVID added a sense of security for investors knowing the business could survive during such a turbulent time?
- Do you think COVID made it easier or harder to raise capital?
What does the future of RosterElf look like?