Emma Rose Metcalfe, Co-Founder, How Do, on Her Recent Successful Seed Funding Round
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Emma Rose Metcalfe (pictured left) is the Co-Founder of How Do, a knowledge-based mobile social platform which recently closed a significant seed round led by Wellington Partners alongside Horizon Ventures (Mr Li Ka-Shing) and angel investor, Peter Read.
Registered as ‘How Do You Peel a Banana? Ltd', the platform launched last month and is available on iOS (iPhones)
How Do uses only sound and image to capture and share real-world, everyday knowledge.
We spoke to Emma about her recent fundraising success; how How Do was developed; and why not being able to offer wages has helped her to recruit the right team.
TNW: Briefly describe the step-by-step process you went through with developing HowDo, from coming up with the initial idea, to the current day.
ERM: HowDo is creative social platform for sharing real-world skills and knowledge, but it began during a conversation with my co-founder Nils. We had just returned from a project on the future of authenticity in India and realised we shared a common drive to create something scalable and fun; something that explored capturing meaningful experiences and added value to everyday life.
Combining the earlier hacks Nils had be working on with sound and image whilst at SoundCloud, and my research in the design and distribution of meaningful experiences at The Experience Design Group, we started running workshops and building a team around us with co-founders Edward, the technical backbone and then Ian who brings the design to life. We were generating an enthusiastic small community of testers who could give us instant feedback on early versions of a tool to capture and share how people do stuff and then we spent the summer designing and developing HowDo with this community to what we have now.
Looking back we were developing at an impressive speed, building everything on the go, taking weekend hacks, and jumping into the world of investors after early interest sparked the idea that this had its own legs.
So, I don't really know when what started as an art project turned into a monster project with great investors and an incredibly dedicated team; but it's a lot of fun!
TNW: What is next for your company?
ERM: Community and product. We built what we think of as a Minimum Viable Experience and now have an exciting roadmap with a bunch of features that we’re working on as fast as we can. Being out of private beta suddenly increases the responsive learning rate dramatically.
TNW: Congratulations on the recent successful fundraising round. How did you manage the process, and do you have any tips for female entrepreneurs looking to raise seed funding for their business?
ERM: Thanks, it super exciting. There are two things that come to mind. Firstly, convincing an investor that you are worth investing in is not as hard as is often made out, and that may sound silly - but there are a bunch of people looking to invest.
What is hard is having the audacity and patience to find really good investors, and that is tricky whether you’re a female entrepreneur or a male one.
I had a co-founder to do this with. It’s actually quite fun to jump about in the ‘other world’ of investments and money trees for a while but securing funding requires dedication and patience and has the real danger of distracting from the important stuff - your project roadmap. Splitting this between Nils and I has been really useful and meant that the pressure is more widely distributed between the team and the focus on important stuff was never lost.
TNW: How have you found investors' attitudes towards you as a female entrepreneur?
ERM: I think it's easy to pretend that the venture capital road is easy for guys and more difficult for women. But I think it can be tough for everybody. I come from a design background which is generally pretty good in terms of men and woman respecting what each other do and their ability to create great work. Mostly, I’ve found that to be the same here, but there have been occasions recently when I’ve had the realization I’m in the middle of a boys club, which is a massive shame. I am lucky to have a great co-founder who happens to be a guy, so I may not have stumbled on some of the experiences of women only founders.
Female entrepreneurs are generally brilliant, and still a minority. I think the only thing that will really change this in a sustainable way is seeing more women on both sides of the investment table.
TNW: When you built your team, what are the key qualities you looked for to ensure the success of your business?
ERM: Our team is the pretty much the people that magnetized towards the project - and stuck. That in itself I think is a good test of dedication to an idea, and a desire to change something. Starting something is the dream opportunity to ask people you’ve always wanted to work with to jump in and join you. We’ve had less than no money, and are spread between two countries so it’s not always easy and all we could promise was a high learning curve and an exciting approach to creating community, technology and product. That attracts people that are driven by learning, people that believe the other people in the room are going to build something to change the way we interact with the world.
It’s probably easier to identify these qualities when you have the hurdle of no wages to filter people, I guess we’ll need to find a new way to see that sparkle in people’s eyes now.
TNW: If you could get on a soap box and get something off your chest about the world of entrepreneurship, something you’d like to change, what would it be?
ERM: Not everything is a problem that needs to be fixed. Many times I think some of the most interesting ideas are crushed in business classes because the problem and the niche have to be so defined an idea is over analyzed out of existence before it ever had chance to exist. Until we’ve tried a prototype with a bunch of people, then anything goes.
TNW: What do you think could be done to increase the number of women entrepreneurs?
ERM: Getting women up and talking about what they are doing. Most of the reason I think guys seem to dominate this world is because they’re generally a bit more sure of themselves. They seem to have a bigger drive to call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ and that means telling people you are. Let’s get more women running things, talking about entrepreneurship in their own language and speaking at events big and small. There is inspiration to found from women doing their own things at every level.
TNW: What is one lesson you would like to pass on to other women leaders?
ERM: Being a woman doesn’t make it more difficult for you. The world is full of great opportunities, and great people. It’s just a matter of finding them.
TNW: What is the best career or management decision you have made?
ERM: It’s a tie at the moment between returning to university to study a master of fine art and teaming up with Nils to throw everything into HowDo.
I think some people are just made to set up their own ways of working. There’s a certain addictive excitement in doing things that don’t seem like the most obvious devotion of time.
TNW: What is one leadership lesson you learned the hard way, but wish someone had told you at the beginning?
ERM: I’m sure there are much harder lessons yet to learn but a tip I wish I’d been told in a relevant way a long time ago is, not just to leave your ego at the door but also your insecurities. They are not helping you or your team.
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