You can’t just walk into a store and buy a Rolex. Watch lovers know this well. 

But if you’re not in the network of people allowed to buy high-end watches directly from retailers, you have to buy your watches pre-loved. That launches a whole new series of issues — most importantly, how do you determine a real from a fake? 

Watch enthusiast and ex-Googler Quaid Walker wanted to bridge that gap. He and his two co-founders started Bezel as an authenticated secondary market for high-end watches. 

With a status product like luxury watches, it helps to have some clout behind your name. That’s why Quaid built his network to help him get in touch with celebrities who could both invest and endorse, such as John Legend and Kevin Hart.

Backed by a team of watch experts, celebrity tastemakers, and seed round investors, Quaid and his co-founders launched Bezel in June 2021 with an $8 million raise. On an episode of the How I Raised It podcast, Quaid shares the strategy that he used as a first-time founder to raise the round and get luxury watches into the hands of eager consumers. Plus, he gives three tips for landing celebrity investors. 

Identify the targets

Quaid divided the fundraising focus into three distinct groups: seed round funders, watch industry experts, and celebrities and tastemakers. I’ll go more in-depth on the third group below, but here’s more detail on the seed round funders and watch industry experts. 

Limiting the focus to seed-stage funders and not just any venture capitalist was intentional. Quaid wanted to work with funds who understood the unique challenges of taking a startup from zero to one. 

Quaid also knew that industry experts were a must for Bezel, so he set his sights on watch specialists from Sotheby’s and Christie’s. 

Part of it had to do with making hiring connections for appraisals and authentication. The other reason was that watch folks have a unique understanding of what Bezel can offer. He wouldn’t have to explain why quality control was important in the luxury watch secondary market; it was just understood.

Three steps to land celebrity investors

Working with celebrity investors is a unique beast. Here are some tips from Quaid’s experience with the movers and shakers of the watch industry. 

1. Know which celebs are interested in your space

Quaid and his partners had identified certain celebrities as watch people who were known to invest in startups. 

“The cool thing about our pitch is, if you love watches, and you are a watch person, and you are also a seed stage investor, it was such a great fit,” he says. “And I think they got excited about the ability to build a brand that feels newer and fresher in the space.”

This points to the importance of creating an intentional narrative for your brand. For Bezel, that meant proving why they specifically had an unfair advantage over anyone else who would want to start a similar brand. Quaid’s obsession with watches and passion for tech gave them that competitive edge, which proved impressive to celebrity investors. 

2. Make bold requests

How does one get a hold of a John Legend or a Kevin Hart? Ask for what you want from people who might be able to help you. 

Quaid talked with his network of angels and other investors to find out who could connect him to the celebrities he thought would be a good fit. 

“It felt ridiculous going into a meeting with a new investor and saying, Hey, I really would love to meet with Kevin Hart, please,” Quaid admits. “But you know, some people have those connections that I did not have, and they made it work.”

3. Follow your usual prep steps

Just like with any investor meeting, do your research. Find out what past investments the celebrity you’re meeting with has made. Look at what angles might appeal to them. 

“​​Before talking to John [Legend] and Kevin [Hart] I did a ton of investment in understanding who they are, what they love learning everything about them, the same way that I would prep for for any really important meeting,” he says. 

Know that while some celebrity investors operate as individual angels, others have formalized funds, so you might not talk to the celebrity directly. In the case of Kevin Hart, the Bezel team often worked with members of the team from his fund, Hartbeat Ventures. So just like any pitch meeting, you’re proving to a team why your brand is a good investment for their portfolio. 

And don’t forget, even though they’re a celebrity, they’re just like any other investor. They want a return on their investment. They want to have confidence that your team is the one to carry out the mission. Quaid still got asked the hard-hitting questions that any investor might ask, such as lowering cap, long-term plans, and whether the business would expand into other verticals.

“You have that obvious, wow, I'm talking to this person, and they're so impressive… But ultimately, they're all incredibly intelligent individuals that are really principled about the checks that they write,” Quaid shares. 

Different people for different problems

Quaid shared some additional tips for any founder, regardless of whether they raise capital from celebrities. 

Choose the right co-founders

First, he wants founders to choose co-founders very carefully from the beginning. His co-founders are a former colleague and a childhood friend. But that doesn’t mean all childhood friends are your best business partners. And it’s important to split the responsibility evenly.

“We all have very complementary skill sets,” he shares. “I think the biggest thing that we did is, we split everything equitably. We are true co-founders. This is all of our business together.”

Ask for the right amount of money

Once your founding team is assembled and you’re ready to raise, make sure your numbers are as close as they can be. Don’t sell yourself short by requesting less money. Figure out how much you need to really make it happen, not to limp along. 

“One of our earliest investors said this really poignant thing: dilution doesn't happen in rounds, that happens in between rounds,” Quaid recalls. “Make sure you're not under-capitalizing your business [and are] raising the amount that you need.” 

Build your network (and use it)

Finally, Quaid suggests keeping a network of other founders and angels with prior startup experience to help with some of the nitty-gritty details. 

“[They] can tell you what to do when things are going wrong and how to write an investor update and things like that, the questions that you might think are embarrassing to ask,” he says. 

More likely than not, they’ve been in your shoes — and they know that question isn’t so embarrassing after all. 

Nathan Beckord is the CEO of, which makes software for startups raising capital.

He is also the CEO of which is a platform for VCs and investment bankers to both raise capital and assist clients and their portfolio companies.

Users of these platforms have raised over $15 billion since 2016.

This article is based on an episode of Foundersuite’s How I Raised It podcast, a behind-the-scenes look at how startup founders raise money.