How Lalo raised a pre-seed on Twtr.
Community, Fundamentals, and Storytelling
Well I’ve been waiting a bit to publish my latest update, but with the announcement from Overlooked VC now public, I’m ready to go! This is a special fund-raising edition. How I went from No to Yes. *Will caveat all this by saying, this worked for me, I didn’t raise millions, so take it all with a grain of salt.
Let’s start with the inputs that I focused on:
Community. This word has been so overused in the past year that it’s become nearly meaningless, but it is the best word I can think of so try not to roll your eyes. For me community is a group of people with a common interest, a flywheel of momentum that works as members contribute to the success of the individuals within. My community has slowly coalesced from a few sources –
1. CASA – a group of LatinX creators, investors, and founders.
2. On Deck – much has been said about the value of OD, but for me I cant deny it helped me build an incredible community
3. Twitter – It’s trite, but true. Twitter is an incredible tool to find your niche.
I’ve been building community since before it was a thing. I started a few LatinX professional organizations through ALPFA, Cardinal Health, and Amazon. I enjoy it, I love seeing people come together, and I’ve been able to translate those experiences to Lalo.
Fundamentals. I won’t spend too much time here. This has been rehashed so many times, the age-old question of “what do investors look for?”. Is it team, is it market, is it traction, is it pedigree? Well…yes. At the end of the day it’s like dating or a job search or making friends, it’s at its simplest level a connection between 2 people. The inputs to that connection are a variety of qualitative, quantitative inputs, with a healthy sprinkle of chance – right place, right time, saying the right thing to the right person. I felt objectively that Lalo represented a big market, we had a hell of a team, the product was touching the right elements to solve the problem, and the traction was on par for our stage. Customers were excited, literally moved to tears, yet investors were hesitant. That leads us to Storytelling…
Storytelling. What an irony that a solution based on storytelling wasn’t able to well….effectively storytell. If you take away anything from our fundraising journey it’s this, do it YOUR way. Mentors and investors will spin you around like a fidget-spinner, 5 year P&L, more traction, technical co-founder, less personal story, more data, etc etc. I say this will all due respect but fuck ‘em. Our breakthrough moment was rooted in going back to our Why, and working to tell a clear and succinct story in under 90 seconds. We have an emotional product, solving an emotional need, yes it’s nice to have supporting data, but at the end of the day for an early stage company is do you believe that 1. This is a big problem, 2. This the team to solve it, 3. The team has made enough progress, and 4. More importantly Does the founder’s “why” make sense. I looked at our deck and story, and well it sucked. It took a metaphorical slap in the face from Melissa Reaves who like a mirage appeared in the desert and in less than 60 minutes, changed our path for ever.
In preparation for a pitch competition (which I lost btw), I recorded a 90 second Loom video of my pitch. I posted said pitch on Twitter and well the flywheel worked its magic. The likes started piling in, key RT’s from Lex and Janine (thank you!!!), comments on “how can I invest” started to bounce around my DMs, literally overnight I had raised a pre-seed round.
It’s easy to say ‘well he got lucky’, and well I won’t disagree with you. The part that wasn’t luck though was getting those 3 pieces in place (community, fundamentals, storytelling). The luck part was right place, right time. I will argue that it was a lifetime’s work to get to that point. It took losing my father, a lifelong struggle to find a community where I fit in, the sacrifice it took to build a career in toxic corporate cultures and elite academic institutions that constantly tried to reject me like an organ transplant. Those experiences got me to this point. I don’t want sympathy; everyone has their journey and I’m sure none are easy. I only say that to emphasize that it’s a long journey, and everyone’s path will be different.
Stay rooted in your Why, lean on your superpowers, focus on the right inputs, surround yourself with great people, and keep moving. Be honest with yourself and stay genuine with your community and I promise good things will happen.
Thank you to the individuals that are part of the Lalo community. I couldn’t do it without you.