Erin Steinbruegge, the chief operating officer of OneSpace, an online platform that connects businesses and freelancers, just helped guide the company through a successful capital raise, which resulted in $9 million in funding for the company. OneSpace maintains a network of 500,000 freelancers and independent professionals worldwide, and helps to connect them with employers who need access to on-demand talent. Steinbruegge offered advice for other entrepreneurs looking to raise capital when she spoke with Business News Daily about OneSpace's successful experience. Here's what she had to say.
Business News Daily: Tell us a bit about OneSpace and what the company does.
Erin Steinbruegge: OneSpace is a virtual workspace platform that brings companies in need of flexible, scalable talent together with freelancers seeking assignments that match their skillsets. Founded in 2012, we have grown to include more than 500,000 freelancers and completed more than 120 million projects. The platform offers everything needed for companies and freelancers to succeed in the modern-day workplace, from talent on demand, performance management tools, security benefits, payment options to online dashboards. With more individuals wanting workplace flexibility and companies needing access to global talent on demand, OneSpace is the perfect bridge to connect the gap.
With the completion of our Series B funding of $9 million, we plan to launch our new "software as a service” later this year. This new software will give companies the freedom of self-servicing our current software, but we will also continue to offer our managed services for companies that seek external experts. Our central mission is to create a best-in-class platform for accessing and managing cloud-based talent.
BND: Describe the process of going out for funding. What did it entail? How did you raise your money?
Steinbruegge: The process of funding can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in your career. Anyone considering a capital raise should be prepared to invest a significant amount of time (pulling you away from your core business) and physical and emotional energy into the process. However, the rewards can be great, beyond the funding of your business. Throughout the process you can expect to further clarify your business pitch and competitive advantages, develop personal strength that comes from having people challenge your ideas, and develop a network of advisors who can help you throughout your journey.
Regardless of the outcome, as an entrepreneur you ultimately should pride yourself in mustering the courage to participate in the pitch and in knowing you had a business idea worthy of VC interest.
BND: What are your tips to other entrepreneurs who are looking for funding?
Steinbruegge: Pitch early and often before you hit the road. Pitch to your team, friends, family, business partners, and anyone who will challenge you and provide valuable, candid feedback. Expect to refine your story multiple times.
Use relationships to get introductions. You have a much better rate of success landing a pitch meeting if you have a warm referral.
Know your audience going into the pitch. Do your homework on the partners and the firm and their portfolio beforehand. Cater your discussion to that firm and the partners you are meeting with.
Focus on the team. There is a lot to cover over a short period of time in a pitch, but keep in mind that [venture capitalists] are ultimately betting on the market opportunity and your team’s ability to capture it. Make sure you highlight the team’s leadership capabilities.
Practice a financial review session with someone who will challenge you. You’re bound to field some curveballs during Q&As and it’s okay if you don’t know every answer, but you should be very familiar with your company financials if you aren’t a pre-revenue company. Don’t get frazzled if you don’t know the answer to a question; remain calm and follow-up after the meeting.