Launching and Finding Funding for Startup Founders

Finding Funding

A Q&A session with Vinny Lingham, CEO of gyft. Vinny has advice for founders after gyft’s successful launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Sep

tember 10th, 2012.

Gyft launches at TechCrunch Disrupt

advice for founders, startup, startup advice

Vinny Lingham, CEO of gyft

You just launched gyft at TechCrunch. What was that like?
Scary. Overall it was a really fun experience. It is the biggest presentation I have ever done and knowing that we had an audience of 100k streaming worldwide was intimidating. I was just trying to remember my lines and not become too nervous in front of so many people. Other great companies were presenting and competing alongside us. It was fun to see what they we’re doing and build off of the sense of excitement and entrepreneurship.

What was your strategy?
My strategy was to focus on my prepared lines, have fun and get the message across about what we are doing with gyft.

If you could go back would you do anything differently?
We actually did things a little differently and didn’t do MVP (minimum viable product) launch. Other companies strategy is to launch a usable product that isn’t slick or polished. We went as polished as possible and didn’t have to worry about bugs and crashes as much. It made for a perfect launch and I wouldn’t have done anything else. I am very satisfied with the way things went.

Can you explain a little bit more about why you made this choice?
We decided to launch a GVP (great viable product). A GVP is what’s needed for the market and was appropriate for gyft. When you have a really defined problem and market it is a lot easier to get a GVP out the door. A MVP is good for testing things out with unknown problems and unknown solutions. We didn’t need to gauge interest in gyft and already knew that there was a viable market. Launching gyft as a MVP would have left the door open for the competition to get something out the door quickly. Instead, we’ve been in stealth for long time and and will be taking advantage of an open market with little competition. This positions gyft far ahead of competitors who will need time to mimic the product and build business relationships before getting to where we are.

You also announced some exciting news about closing a funding round. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
We are very lucky to see a lot of financial support and excitement about gyft. We have $1.25 M in funding led by Google Ventures, Founder Collective, 500 Startups, Romulus Capital and other angels.

Do you have any advice for founders going through the process of finding funding?
My advice for founders is to keep working on your product. The further you take your product the chances of finding funding become higher. Looking for funding with an advanced product so was much easier. Stretch your resources as far as possible to get as complete a product as possible. Raising money 1-2 months before a launch will take away the financial stress of getting through the launch. Don’t spend all your efforts raising for 9 months or longer than a year. Instead raise enough to have security through the launch and the launch will carry you financially.

This is a really exciting time for you. I am sure you are exhausted. What are looking forward to in the next couple of months both professionally and personally?
As a startup founder, my professional and personal life are really the same thing at this point. I am looking forward to getting product out the door and moving forward. I don’t have too much of breather coming out of the launch. I would like to spend as much of the little time that I have with my family.

One last question. Jessica Alba was given a gyft card by your partner at Disrupt. Is Jessica Alba your Facebook friend? If so, can I be your friend?
We did try adding her as a friend, but are still waiting for a response!

About gyft
Gyft is a digital gift card platform that enables you to manage your gift cards. You can ditch the plastic and use your mobile device to store, send and redeem cards.

About Vinny Lingham
Vinny is a serial entrepreneur focusing on Mobile, Online Marketing & SaaS business models. Selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur and Young Global Leader he has passion to build Internet based companies. Over the years Vinny has successfully raised over $50M in funding and is an active angel investor. He is very involved in the Silicon Cape Initiative, which aims to build a high-tech cluster in South Africa. Prior to co-founding Gyft, he co-founded and Vinny lives in Palo Alto, with his wife and son.

Want to learn more about @gyft? Follow Vinny’s blog or connect with him on Twitter @vinnylingham


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