When Domm Holland arrived in the U.S. in June 2019, the Australian founder had just one Bay Area contact in his phone. In less than two years, this Silicon Valley outsider has built a successful tech startup, as well as a strong professional network that helped him raise $124 million in funding.
Domm’s company, Fast, is creating a 1-click checkout experience, making it easier for everyone on the internet to shop online.
It’s a message that has resonated with plenty of folks in the tech industry, and Domm looks to be living the dream when it comes to raising venture capital.
But Domm insists there are no easy paths to startup success. “Hard work is the number one thing that people need to do. They need to spend more time researching and on bespoke communication, as opposed to just kind of ‘spray and pray.’”
From the beginning, Domm focused on meeting with relevant people in the tech space, which he says is important not only for funding but also for building every part of the business — from hiring employees to connecting with customers and suppliers.
“I just can't overstate how building networks in the sector that you're operating in is a really important skill set,” he says.
On this episode of the How I Raised It podcast, Domm shares his story and talks about what founders need to know to be successful in their fundraising efforts.
How He Raised It
💰 Who: Domm Holland
💰 Company: Fast
💰 Money quote: “Nothing beats building human networks. That's the way that you're going to get this done in terms of fundraising.”
💰 Noteworthy: The Fast team met with more than 70 companies in the Series B round of funding, even though they had already locked in a strong partner in Stripe. “It's a great way to make sure that you are aligned with the best partners, getting strong terms and doing the best thing by all of our shareholders and our team,” says Domm.
[00:43] Faster than a speeding mouse click 👉 Fast is building 1-click checkout functionality for the entire internet, using a cross-site network to reduce the friction in what is often the most frustrating part of online shopping.
[02:56] Paving the way for commerce 👉 Domm knew there was room for improvement in the world of e-commerce checkout after watching a relative whose attempt to order groceries was foiled by a forgotten password.
[08:31] Let’s talk numbers 👉 In less than two years, Fast has raised $124 million in three international rounds, starting with friends and family fundraising in Australia and $2.5 million preemptive pre-seed round led by Index Ventures’ Jan Hammer. This was followed by a $20 million Series A led by Stripe and a $102 million Series B led by Stripe and Addition.
[10:50] The VC landscape in Australia 👉 Aussie fundraising deals tend to be less aggressive when it comes to high-risk ventures, as compared to the VC action in Silicon Valley.
[13:31] Landing a pre-seed offer on the spot 👉 Looking for relevant people to talk to and asking for the right meetings put Domm in front of Fast’s future co-founder and COO — and landed him breakfast with Jan Hammer of Index Ventures.
[18:34] Hard work: the key to building a network 👉 Put in the work to understand who you should be meeting with, and then do the research to know what about your work will be interesting to them. This hard work is not only the way to find funders, but also the path to understanding how you will build the company through hires, customers, and suppliers.
[22:14] Making the connection 👉 When you reach out to a new contact, keep it brief, interesting, and — most importantly — relevant to them. “The more relevant you are to the person, the less you need to give them an ask.”
[28:34] The story behind Stripe 👉 Domm shares how his one Bay Area contact turned out to be the link to Fast’s biggest funder.
[31:09] Eyes on the prize 👉 Domm points to price and equity as the two most important focal points in negotiating a deal and adds that the details of a strategic partnership are crucial to get right.
[35:31] “No easy option” 👉 For Domm, it all comes back to hard work and building networks with actual humans — both will prove to funders that you have what it takes to be successful.
Top quotes from the episode:
“When I first got to the States, I wanted to build networks, but I didn't really know anyone here in the Bay Area. So I spent a lot of time reaching out to relevant people — people working in payments, people working in technology, people working in identity authentication — just really relevant people in the space working in big tech who were building large-scale networks.”
“I just spent time meeting with people in the sector — not asking for money — just interesting people who could help. Raising money isn't the only thing. You’ve got to hire people, you’ve got to build a team, you’ve got to build customers and suppliers, and you've got to build entire ecosystems. So anybody who would be interesting in that area, anyone I could learn from, anyone that would be helpful to me, I spent the time to meet with.”
“I would have — and still do — 10 to 20 meetings a day. I would just put in the hard work. I would come to them, I would ask for whatever time and not necessarily ask for anything, but yet make really clear what it is I want to talk about that they would be interested in.”
“Hard work is the number one thing that people need to do. They need to spend more time researching and on bespoke communication, as opposed to just kind of ‘spray and pray.’”
“If you're really talking to your customers, if you're really talking to your audience, if you're really talking to the network of people you should just be talking to as part of your business anyway, you're going to naturally see people who get excited about what you're doing. And they're going to want to invest or be part of it, or join a team or give you connections to other people in the sector. I just can't understate how building networks in the sector that you're operating in is a really important skill set.”
“Nothing beats building human networks. That's the way that you're going to get this done in terms of fundraising. But also bear in mind that showing that you can do that is also showing that you can build the business because that's what you've got to do to build a client base, to build a team. These are just important traits that you need to show that you can successfully execute on.”