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So you want to raise money? Panelists offer the lowdown

Want advice on raising startup funding? How about hearing from those who have been there, done that.

Refresh Miami’s all-star panel brought it home for entrepreneurs: Fund-raising is a necessary evil, success or failure is all on you, and don’t blame living in Miami.

"It's not about the size of the city or the culture, it is about the entrepreneur. ... You are either a victim or a player. If you are a good entrepreneur, the money will come to you," said Marco Giberti, an entrepreneur and angel investor with Accelerated Growth Partners. Refresh

With that out of the way, the panelists — Dan Quezada of CareCloud, "Tigre" Wenrich of Open English, Will Weinraub of LiveNinja, Richard Grundy of Flomio, Giberti and moderator Mark Slaughter of Cohealo — had lots of advice:

Do your homework. Study the fund-raising strategies of successful companies in your space. Read "Venture Deals" by Brad Feld. Don’t start raising money until you have a prototype and proven, scalable business model. It takes knocking on a lot of doors (Grundy said his number was 92 to find Flomio's five angel investors).

You don’t always have to be traditional — Flomio just raised $96,000 on Kickstarter. Practice, practice, practice your communication skills. Use AngelList. Seek out warm introductions to help get a meeting. Investors like to see skin in the game so issuing stock options to team members is a good thing  Find an excellent lawyer (CareCloud found its lawyer in Silicon Valley).

And perhaps most important, the panelists said: Do your research on your prospective investor and make sure your visions and horizons align, because the wrong pairing can do more harm than good. "You have to do as much diligence on them as they do on you," said Weinraub.

The panelelists also discussed the pros and cons of convertible debt (make sure it's capped) and other various ways to structure an angel deal. It’s a learning process. Even CareCloud and OpenEnglish, companies that have raised tens of millions in venture funding, made a few missteps early on.

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