Access to finance is one the main barriers for development of startups and even more difficult for creative businesses. But you are not alone. We are bringing to you a new series of interviews with successful investment stories where startups from our global network share their funding strategies.
We talked with Johanna Forsman, Co-founder and CEO of Swedish startup StoryTourist.
Johanna Forsman: Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to visit the places where my favourite books and films were set. And when I told my fiancé about this dream, it turned out he had the same idea, but about experiencing history on location.
So we decided to create the StoryTourist app, allowing you to step into the story, trace the steps of your favorite characters and discover real places through their eyes with the help of text, film, audio and interactive puzzles. We say that it’s a bit like Pokémon Go for stories!
You have won CBC Sweden 2019 and went to the CBC Global Finals 2019. How did this experience help your startup?
We were happy and honored to be chosen as the Swedish representatives in the international finals and had such a great time at the event. It really is by far the friendliest startup community I’ve encountered!
We are currently a great team of 6,5 people, experimenting with exciting new storytelling formats and working to prove our product-market fit.
The pandemic took a toll on the business sector overall. However, did you find it more difficult to get funding this year? Why?
The creative industries have been hard hit by the Corona pandemic, and the tourism industry has been completely devastated. Doing digital tourism experiences has shielded us somewhat from the impact, because even though the large tourism streams have temporarily disappeared, our tours will be a safe option once they return.
It’s this future potential that allowed us to close an investment round in May, even at the height of the first wave in Europe.
What was your approach to attract investors and what type of investment did you get?
We always want to take in “smart money” so we have focused on angel investors and family offices with experience from tourism or media. We did an equity seed round and also took out a small business loan.
What was most challenging in raising capital and how did you overcome it?
The pandemic was of course the most challenging, but also the fact that I was pregnant. Thankfully, all of our investors were really cool about it!
How important was it to have traction to raise capital?
It’s very important, and should definitely be a prominent part of your pitch. It is also possible to raise capital on potential, before you have traction, it will just be more difficult!