A different approach to funding

03 January 2018

Jackie Fast built her Slingshot sponsorship business from her bedroom. She started with £2,000 and a laptop, and sold it successfully six years later.

Sponsorship: alternative funding

Sponsorship is any collaborative work that has mutually beneficial value for both the recipient (whether it is a person, a company, a team or an event) and the sponsor. It is a funding partnership, a relationship.

My company identifies the right partners and helps build commercial partnerships that grow and adapt. For example, my first client and their sponsor are still working together, seven years later. This is almost unheard of in my industry.

For me, it’s about honing in on what makes a good partnership work and finding the way to make it happen. Slingshot does this by finding and managing the sponsors, creating marketing and activation plans and executing them.

Sponsorship can be a really straightforward answer to some of the key problems that entrepreneurs face – with the potential for serious monetary savings. Through my work, I’ve identified the six key mistakes that people continue to make when looking for funding and they’re easy to spot and to fix. This can be an approach that really changes your business by enabling investment.

Sponsorship and tech

Slingshot does a lot of sports sponsorship, but that’s not where my interest is – I’m into tech, where sponsorship could play a much bigger role. For example, take app development. What normally happens when people develop apps or digital technology is that they have an idea – and that is where their initial seed funding goes. It never goes into marketing. However, without an audience, apps are doomed.

Venture capitalists seek to back tech products that they think will solve a problem. That’s all very well for the apps that are instant hits, but what about the millions that aren’t? At the same time, looking for marketing funding really isn’t in a tech person’s skillset and neither is it expected – everybody, including the people giving them money, is focused on product development.

Sponsorship can solve this crucial challenge with tech funding. By understanding if an app has commercial potential through a partnership, you can save millions on marketing and distribution. Don’t take my word for it: our biggest client is Sir Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge, the world’s largest start-up competition, in conjunction with the annual Consumer Electronics Show event in Las Vegas.

What advice would you give to tech entrepreneurs?

When tech entrepreneurs develop their apps, they should consider how they can be distributed and marketed: how are you going to get your product into people’s hands? There is a 99.4% user drop-off from all apps purchased for iPhones – your tech needs to be relevant. You either have to develop the best product in the world, or build something that fixes a real problem. Once you have that, you must focus on how to get your product out to the masses. Just having a good product is no longer enough.

Integrating sponsorship in the right way at the right time could totally change the bottom line. It should be seen as a valuable addition to executing any business plan; more than just a means to an end. If you don’t have the time or resource to invest in marketing your tech, sponsorship could be a viable solution.

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