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Real Life Funding Stories: Steven Hess, The Startup Leadership Program

By Mike Narouei, Content Producer at Boring Money

31 Jan, 2018

The Startup Leadership Program ( ( is a global not-for-profit education program and network for entrepreneurs - about 150 in the UK and 2,700 globally. Steven Hess is an entrepreneur and advisory firm co-founder. He's a trustee and Program Lead at Startup Leadership.

How did you achieve funding?

Soil or seed funding requirements are often met by a group of investors called Friends, Family and Fools. The 3 Fs. These investments are high risk and often don’t pay back. As such, banks are reluctant to lend. Entrepreneurs often try crowdfunding or pre-sales - where the entrepreneur tries to sell their product before they’ve made it or had to buy it.

The emotional highs and lows of getting funding

Running out of money is a very low low. You have responsibilities to your team and your customers. As an entrepreneur you just need energy, focus and resilience. You have to be able to get through all the Nos to get to a Yes.

Finding that Yes is amazing. A confirmation that everything you believe is correct. That someone believes in you. You can now get going. But make sure that the investment is on terms where you can make money, bring in new investors and work with the investor.

Any tips for other people going through the same process?

Work out where you want to get to. Then work back to where you are today. Key questions would be:

How much do you need?

What are you going to use it for?

What do you think the company is worth?

Consider the tax questions that might arise.

Get clear who your ideal investor is and then look for them!

And remember that entrepreneurs are good at dealing with uncertainty and change. That’s why they are entrepreneurs.

If you're looking at funding a new business, you can read our Boring Money Guide to Finding Funding ( It's full of straightforward, practical advice and steps to take. There's loads more about running a business on our Everyday Entrepreneurs (