Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pinch me, it's really happening...

This past year has been quite a journey for us, from my first blog post about how we wanted a Zeppelin badly enough to figure out how to get one, to all the numerous trips, discoveries and ups and downs. Some people have asked us why we don't have slick videos or lots of artists impressions, after all, surely you need all that to sell your ideas? Well, to be honest, we've just not had the time. Every waking hour that we've spent building this company has been on removing the risks and barriers to making it happen.

You see, if you don't remove all the barriers, then when you go to ask people for investment, the first thing they say is "do you have X?" or "Have you planned for Y?". And in most cases, they aren't going to invest until the risk reaches a level that they are comfortable with. So you end up in a sort of catch-22, needing to spend money to get the issues dealt with so that you can find investors, but needing investors to provide you the money to spend!!

Fortunately, not everyone has the same feelings about risk. The earliest investors who take the biggest risk are often called Angels because they believe in you and help you when it's not at all clear when or even if, this will really happen. Aside from founders who often put a great deal of their own investment in, Angels are the first external people that validate what you are doing. They provide much needed emotional support and also a network of people that they can introduce you to. They are your first cheerleaders. Our first Angels joined us at the end of last year after we'd been on the fund raising trail for a couple of months having at least established that most of the issues could be overcome.

Angel funding then allows you to keep moving forward while you remove further risks and eventually you get to the point where you can close the funding deals with the larger investors from a position of reasonable strength.

On Monday (fortunately not Tuesday as that was the Hindenburg anniversary), we completed our funding. This final step involved a few weeks where Brian, myself and our legal teams all saw midnight, from our desks or on the phone, too many times. But that funding, plus some additional financing already secured, allows us now to be as confident as we can be that the Zeppelin is coming to the USA in the fall.

The team here is happy and a little exhausted, and we haven't even had time to issue press releases about all the great people we've been hiring, but when we see our ship leave the hangar for the first time in the not too distant future, I think we're all going to be a little emotional.

What a ride..... so far...... more to come!

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