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Success for Cult Mia

Nina Briance from Cult Mia joined the second cohort of the Hive Founders Investment Readiness Accelerator Program for guidance on positioning her business in a VC-friendly and -attractive way. Six months on she found her seed round oversubscribed and Cult Mia moving to new heights. This is how Hive helped her achieve that

Getting VC-ready

After raising pre-seed and taking Cult Mia from an idea, to getting investment from family office and angels to bring her idea to life, Nina came across Hive’s Investment Readiness Accelerator Program (IRAP) through the London Business School alumni community, and decided to take the plunge.

The 8-week structure of the program with a very clear outline of the level of commitment and time needed was very appealing, as she knew exactly how much time she would need to dedicate outside of running her business and juggling an investment process.

The Hive impact

Nina came to Hive with a deck that had been successful with family offices but it was still talking about the idea rather than the momentum, and product-market-fit. Working her way through the weekly program, and spending one-to-one time with her mentor, helped focus her thinking and her time in important ways:

1. Telling a compelling story

“Hive helped me absolutely nail my sales pitch. Sometimes when you’re too close to the detail it can be hard to zoom out and tell a compelling story. Hive helped me to not only pull out the key selling points of my business, but to get comfortable selling, which can sometimes be a challenge for female founders.”

“My mentor had relevant industry experience but she really took the time to understand my business. Working out how to present my business in the strongest way with someone that not only understands your business but has a deep understanding of what investors want to see, was invaluable for me.”

2. Building a standout pitch deck

Understanding your investment audience in this investment process is as important as understanding your customer. That means you need to understand what type of investor you want to pitch to, and what they care about. Cult Mia’s opportunity lay with three types of investors: marketplaces, sustainability-focused investors, and fashion investors.

Working with her mentor, Nina was able to create an impactful and concise pitch deck that clearly showed her value proposition, her unit economics, as well as the opportunity, the traction and the momentum she’s tapping into. Using this as a base she could then create slightly different versions of her pitch deck that would speak to these different investment audiences.

“The level of personal support and attention you get with Hive is not something I’ve seen in other programs. That one-to-one relationship with my mentor where every week we dug into my business, my deck, my sales pitch, made the world of difference.”

“By the end, I felt the most confident I’d ever felt with my pitch deck.”

3. Navigating the process

“One of the investors I pitched to said they’d never seen a more organised or detailed data room. I was just following the format recommended during the IRAP program.”

As part of the IRAP program founders learn the ins and outs of the fundraising process - which documents and financial models to prepare, how and what to share with investors, how to navigate tricky situations, and lots more.

Nina broadly understood the logistics of the process, but going through IRAP helped her think ahead and prepare in the right way, which then made having all the conversations very straightforward and the due diligence process very smooth.

But the fundraising process not only requires technical prep, it also requires mental and emotional preparedness.

Being a sole founder Nina found herself needing a sounding board during the fundraising process - she didn’t need help with running her business - she has a robust team, but she needed someone that could look at an investment deck with her. Someone to bounce ideas off.

Not only did she get that from the Hive IRAP presenters, and her mentor, but also the wider Hive community showed her she’s not alone in facing up to the challenge.

“Having a sounding board with the Hive team made the process so much better, so much less stressful.”

Tangible outcomes

Looking back at the tangible and intangible she got from the IRAP, Nina sums up the outcomes for her in three parts:

1. Game changing pitch deck

“I had interest before when using my previous pitch deck, but nothing like with the deck I built through the IRAP, my deck was radically upgraded. There wasn’t a single investor in my target space that saw my deck that didn’t want at least an introductory call.”

2. Shifting fundraising from passive to active

“Hive helped me to show up to meetings and not be passive. Female founders sometimes give the impression that we would be lucky if someone invests in us.

Now I actively have conversations to understand the fund, the value they’d add, the overall fit - and I set that tone from the beginning.”

3. Demo day turned into payday

“The demo day at the end of the program was extremely valuable. Not only did I get very useful and positive feedback, but there were real investors in the room, ready to invest.

“I met Morgan Stanley at the IRAP demo day, and them hearing my presentation first hand got my foot in the door in a very positive way. Today, they are one of my investors after joining my seed round led by Fuel Ventures, which ended up being oversubscribed. An incredible outcome.”

4. The first investment for Womankind Ventures

“I’m very honoured that Cult Mia became the first investment for Womankind Ventures. It’s very special that this inspiring group of women wanted to support my business and decided to join my seed round.”

Womankind Ventures is a dynamic and inclusive global angel investment group with a mission to get more funding to female founders.

“WKV is uniquely placed after going through this intensive IRAP process with founders, to have a unique insight on the potential. They'll know the businesses more than any other VC after working with them through the process, and can invest with a lot of confidence.”

Cult Mia has now successfully closed their seed round investment led by Fuel Ventures, with participation from Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab and Womankind Ventures. But this is just the beginning for Nina, watch this space.


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