By Catherine Lyons
This past month has been an exciting one for Jennifer Schnidman Medbery, founder of Drop the Chalk. She and her business won the local Tulane Business Plan Competition, and secured angel funding from New Orleans Startup Fund. Jennifer spoke with NolaVie about Drop the Chalk’s updates and what it’s like to try to secure funding for her startup.
Jennifer, tell NolaVie about Drop the Chalk’s exciting funding updates.
Drop the Chalk just closed our angel round of funding. New Orleans Startup Fund participated– this was their first investment– as did several other local and national angels. The same week we found out that we won the Domain Companies Challenge, part of the Tulane Business Plan Competition, which is focused on businesses with a local impact.
Give our readers a glimpse into what it’s like to take part in a business competition. What is expected of contestants?
Having now gone through both business plan competitions and a fundraising round with institutional investors, I can say there are significant differences. Business plan competitions are an academic exercise – there are multiple rounds of judging and a lengthy business plan is required. Then, you have to think quickly on your feet during the final round when there is often 10 to 15 minutes of Q&A by judges, some of whom may be well-versed in your industry, and some whom may be completely unfamiliar with your work. Navigating the judging dynamic can be tricky!
What is your “elevator pitch?”
Drop the Chalk builds software for teachers. Our first product, Kickboard, makes it possible for teachers to track student academic and behavior progress continuously, so they can ensure their students are on track to meet end of year goals and can make adjustments along the way.
Drop the Chalk has had a lot of success recently in business competitions. What is your secret?
Our secret isn’t really a secret – lots and lots of hard work. We are constantly working to make our product better and to improve how we support our customers.
What is the most sage advice you’ve received when it comes to securing funding or competing for funds? And what is the advice you would give others, based on your experiences?
Your investors will do a lot of due diligence on you and your company before they decide to invest. Make sure you do the same on them! Choose investors that share the same values and mission that you do – there are many “big pocketbooks” out there; make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who share your vision of success.