Sean Grundy’s startup is on a mission to have a big impact on the environment and beverage industry.
During his appearance on the Dealmakers Show, Grundy shared his experiences with for-profit versus nonprofit organizations, testing pricing, and product-market fit, and converting investors into capital. Plus, why not to wait to launch your startup.
It’s also worth noting that his growing company is still hiring.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
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For-Profit Vs. Nonprofit Ventures
Sean Grundy was born in NYC. His parents were both commercial bankers working for Chase Manhattan.
When it came time for college, he attended Princeton to study philosophy. He says that he enjoyed the rigor of critical thinking. Something definitely not wasted in the startup space.
Grundy notes that VCs like to invest in ‘first principle’ thinkers. Those who question everything, and strip back assumptions to find the real facts.
After Princeton, he took advantage of the freedom to travel the world. Spending close to a year in Brazil, and then China.
In China, he ended up becoming a program manager for an environmental NGO focused on conservation. While he loved the authenticity of the people he worked with, and the mission they were on, Sean admits he became frustrated with seeing conservationists always lose out to businesses. Anytime these interests clashed, the corporations won, at the cost of the environment.
He decided that if he really wanted to make an impact, then it would have to be done from a business angle. Businesses are just bigger, better funded, and more powerful.
It got him thinking of businesses with environmental causes, that could be more sustainable. Which was part of the inspiration to go back to school.
He got into MIT’s business school with the intent of restructuring his career and finding the right startup idea.
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Why You Shouldn’t Wait To Launch Your Startup
Many of Sean’s classmates attended the program with the plan of starting their own companies while still in school, or right afterward. In reality, very few ended up doing so.
By the second month, there was a lot of inbound recruiting coming from corporations. The consulting firms, tech companies, and investment banks would all be pitching themselves. Many were lured into those jobs and salaries.
He saw that once they were pulled in, few ended up saving up money to launch their own business. Their expenses grew, they end up with families and making the leap just gets harder to do.
Sean was wary of falling into that trap. He also met his two cofounders, Eliza Beckton, and Mike Frank.
Eliza came up with the idea to disrupt the bottled water industry and to create point-of-use machines that offered high-quality drinks without single-use containers. It was a big market, and an opportunity Grundy didn’t want to pass up on.
The Fundraising Process
Together the team threw themselves into the venture full-time, bootstrapping their way through it.
With no other source of income, they got serious about fundraising and finding capital for the business.
They worked on checking the boxes for investors by developing a prototype, gaining some traction, and filing a patent to protect their technology.
Bevi has now raised $60M. While Sean says that their Seed Round was certainly the hardest, fundraising is always a process, and it doesn’t become easy.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Sean Grundy was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Looking at Fundraising as a Sales Funnel
As you progress through funding rounds, he says that what’s most important for investors flips, from being 80% vision and team, and maybe just 20% traction and achievements, to the reverse. Your team and vision will always be important, but your historical financials, unit economics, and growth definitely become more of a factor.
This founder suggests looking at fundraising as a sales funnel. At each step, you are going to have conversion rates, which eventually trickle down to putting that money in the bank.
You can go out there and talk to other entrepreneurs about their investor encounters, and make a list of those that may be a good fit for your startup.
Then you may pitch 25 of those to end up with five investors who really engage and get into their due diligence. Then you might end up with two-term sheets to negotiate and choose from.
Today, Bevi leases machines to businesses, whose teams and guests enjoy filtered water and flavored beverages, without single-use containers.
They now have over 4,000 customers. Some of whom have hundreds of machines in action.
Looking forward, Bevi’s vision is “to entirely eliminate single use bottles and cans.” They expect you to see them in your own kitchen, coffee shops, and your workplace. With everybody walking around with a reusable bottle.
Check out the full Dealmakers interview for more on:
- Pricing and finding product market fit
- How big Bevi is today
- Why you need to design your startup with the long term and your lifestyle in mind