Global Speaker, Author, Startup Strategy Consultant, and multiple-time founder Ciara Ungar wears a lot of hats in the investment and startup space, from her work with The Why Group and their Founder Mastermind program to the new emerging fund BONOS Capital.
Ungar, who runs multiple businesses and is dedicated to empowering founders from funding to growth, provides a wealth of insight, tips, and knowledge on her Twitter page, recently spoke with NFuzer in an exclusive interview to provide even more insight.
“Founder Mastermind is a program I’m very excited to bring to market” says Ungar, who has roots spanning Madison Avenue Agencies, Venture Capital firms and beloved global brands. “More than 90% of startups fail because they don’t take a strategic approach, and the goal of Founder Mastermind is to reduce this.
I am the Founder & CEO of The Why Group Inc., which is the producer of the Founder Mastermind. This program is much needed for Startup Founders. It was designed to provide a more strategic foundation for Founders as they launch and build their startup, by giving them a place to work 1:1 with myself and other experts in the space, as well as network with other Founders and Investors in their journey. Founders register for a Cohort 15 other companies to embark on a 6 month program. To kick it off, they attend a 3 day in person intensive where we mastermind their formation, business model, revenue model, growth strategy and brand story using proven frameworks. Following the 3 day intensive, they then engage over 6 months with 1:1 coaching and group coaching as they implement their strategies we designed together. The goal is to help them cut through the noise, provide dedicated support with experts, give them a place of community (being a founder can be a lonely journey), and support them in a strategic path to success.
Beyond being the Founder of TWG, I am one of the Experts/Coaches and the Curator of the event.”
Ungar is also excited about the upcoming launch of BONOS Capital, which is set to arrive sometime in Q3 2023 with a focus on early stage startups.
“BONOS Capital is an emerging fund launching in Q3 2023 with a focus on early stage startups” Ungar explains. “We’re targeting a $25M+ fund size to support startups in tech who are bringing innovations to the market that address social and environmental issues. The mission of our fund is to bridge caps in traditional funding wherein social impact ventures and some founder profiles are grossly underfunded. We want to create opportunity where it has traditionally been overlooked.”
Ungar always provides some helpful posts on social media, specifically geared towards founders, and she provided some tips for founders when it comes to fixing the most common issues regarding a pitch.
“Pitching is not just reserved for your investor meetings” said Ungar. “Your pitch is how you talk about your brand to customers, co-founders, and investors alike. So when answering this question or considering how to strengthen your pitch, it’s important to understand that’s your pitch is rooted in a fundamental story you’re telling, even though it may be nuanced depending on your audience. With that in mind, I’d say the three common mistakes I see founders make when pitching are:
-Focusing WAY too heavily on the numbers. Even in the case of investors, the numbers (traction, data, etc.) do not make your product compelling. What makes your product compelling is the story you’re telling that connects to human emotion. Psychology tells us that the person your pitching too won’t even pay attention to the numbers if they’re not emotionally engaged. So starting with the numbers or focusing too much on this will lose them.
-Not having a WHY. This seems to be an overused term at the moment, but it’s a fact we can’t deny. If you don’t have a WHY that you’re building from, your product will in fact feel disconnected from your vision and the realities of your audience. Defining your why will help create a North Star for your deck, your team, your growth vision, and much more that are what tie your pitch together.
-Not having a Funding Strategy. Your Funding Strategy is arguably one of the most important components of your pitch. If you haven’t taken the time to map out a true and effective Funding Strategy, the gaps will show. This means thinking through the now and the future in great detail, EVEN if you still don’t have a product designed yet. Not only do you gain trust when you properly work through a Funding Strategy, you create buy-in a lot easier with a vision people can rally behind. It also helps you avoid unnecessary scrutiny when you’re pitching, and as founders we can all use that where we can get it.”
The investment space is coming off a roller coaster year in 2022, where we saw the dips in the Web3 space to the struggles experienced by a number of high-profile tech companies. Struggles that seem to be carrying over to 2023.
“I don’t think it makes it more challenging to invest in” Ungar explains. “Instead, I see it as an opportunity. At BONOS Capital and in my Consulting work, I am selective with who I work with. Founders who understand empathy and human-centric approaches are critical to the future of the industry. I believe the companies focused on layoffs didn’t start with that foundation (generally speaking) and that’s why we’re here. What the trends are reminding us of is the importance of doing that. So, I don’t see it as more challenging, I see it as an accountability tool that we have to do things different and I am committed to working with Founders who believe the same and are open to a new mentality. “
Ciara Ungar has a passion for tech, and a focus in working with founders who operate in spaces such as HealthTech, FinTech, EdTech and, as Ungar describes, “other tech for good”.
“As a Founder, my journey has been up and down just like any other founder, but the key to my growth and “wins” has been to have a plan, build resilience, and be human” she says. “This is what I hope to help other Founders do, as I lean more into brain-based approaches in the coming year with some of my programming. It’s so critical that we take care of our mindset, soulset and heartset as part of this journey because without that, a business will eventually fail. My experience as a Founder proves this for me. As a Strategy Consultant and Founder Executive Coach – and even in the companies I own – this is at the heart of the mission. “
Ungar is already taking 2023 by storm and has some big goals lined up for the year.
“At BONOS Capital, we’re excited to launch later this year and begin opening up opportunities for portfolio companies and investors alike.
At THE WHY GROUP INC., I’m very excited to be launching additional programming for Founders across leadership development and content.
CIARA & Co. is in a growth period right now and my goal this year is to pivot focus a bit to provide dedicated support across Strategic Planning and Business Strategy, including helping founders create greater alignment, purpose and clear mission. “
Ciara Ungar is available for speaking engagements and her book – Leadership: Lessons from a Team Captain, is now available in both digital and print. Ungar has been featured on Forbes as part of their Forbes Coaches Council, Entreprenuer, and Business Leadership Today, among others.