"Do or Die" - Founders Stories

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As a founder, ask yourself: "Are you really sure that you want to do this?"

You'll face many ups and downs. Rejection from investors is part of the journey, but each 'no' brings you one step closer to a 'yes.'

Patrick Smith, Founder and CEO of zally, and Sam Royle, Co-founder and CEO of SoSquared, understood these challenges after raising funds for their startups. As a result, they created FLIP to break down barriers to investment and build a supportive community. The events have facilitated numerous connections and partnerships both in Manchester and beyond.

FLIP partnered with Climb24 to bring together a panel of founders to discuss their "Do or Die" moments.

Hosted by:

  • Patrick Smith - Founder and CEO, zally
  • Sam Royle - Co-founder and CEO, SoSquared


  • Ayaan Mohamed Ali - Founder and CEO, Digitech Oasis
  • Harry Neil Panter - Co-founder and CEO, Housr Living
  • Georgie Fairhall - Founder and CEO, WAC

Key Takeaways from the Panel Discussion at Climb24 in Leeds:

  • Be a Strategic Sponge
    • Understand that you can't do everything in your business.
    • Embrace continuous learning and adaptation: if you don't know something, find someone who does, and learn from them.
  • Hire Specialists, Not Generalists
    • If your team can't take you where you need to be, don't be afraid to make changes.
    • Your team drives your growth, so invest in the people aspect of your business in order to get to the next level.
  • Delegation is Key
    • Trust your hires to do their jobs, allowing you to focus on tomorrow's goals while taking care of today's needs.
    • Raising funds is a full-time job, so it's crucial to have a team that can manage the company in your absence.
  • Be Strategic and Do Your Research on Investors
    • Investment is a lengthy process. Lean on existing relationships and build personalised solutions to investor problems.
    • Research investors' portfolios to target those who have invested in similar businesses.
  • Enter Rooms Where You Stand a Chance
    • Capitalise on and exploit opportunities.
    • Demonstrate your ability to execute, showcase your product's value, and solve real problems.
  • Be Authentic and Embrace Your Lived Experiences
    • Don’t mould yourself into something you’re not, instead be proud of your differences.
    • Stick to your beliefs, remain composed, and you will succeed even in desperate times.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Pivot
    • If something isn’t working, be ready to pivot to meet market demands.
    • This pivotal moment can be a "make or break" decision for your business, so ensure you're ready to make strategic choices that benefit the company.
  • Find an Advisor That Knows Their Stuff
    • Learning from someone with experience in your field makes it easier to navigate challenges.
    • Utilise founder networks to gain advice and learn from others.
  • Your Business Isn't About You; It's About Everyone Involved
    • Keep raising funds until they are secured in the bank.
    • Do whatever it takes to make the business work.

Here are the panel's "Do or Die" moments:

Harry: Quickly expanding to the US and dealing with legacy issues from rapid growth.

Ayaan: Realising the need to pivot from just data integration to robotics to avoid business failure.

Georgie: Facing the toughest fundraising challenges and market conditions due to a low-paid market and COVID-19.

One thing is for sure: founders will face challenging times, but resilience is key to maintaining your vision and beliefs, helping you stay motivated on your entrepreneurial journey.

Thank you to the panellists for taking part in the panel and to Climb24 for partnering with FLIP.

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