Mon Purse founder Lana Hopkins talks funding.

I had the idea to start Mon Purse in early 2014 and in late 2015 we launched in beta.

It started as an online store allowing women to create their own custom-designed leather purse or handbag.

Today, we are on track for a $20 million annual run rate for the year, which represents an annualised growth of over 800% year-on-year.

We now have over 55 people working for us as well as concession stores in Myer - and this is pre-international stores opening in late 2016. We estimate that we will have a team of close to 80 by then.

To foster this growth, we have completed a total of three capital rounds.

The first was a small angel round, which is often best to do via family and friends. A good friend's father was the first investor to back the idea.

The concept to launch phase started from January to October 2014, then we were in beta for most of 2015. That said, we sold bags before we launched to validate our MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

Due to budget restraints we were limited in terms of how many bags we could manufacture. The manufacturing side of the business required an injection. We were extremely frugal with our first round of funding.

The most expensive outlays in the early days were definitely manufacturing as well as tech development.

Realistically, we started trading seriously in mid-2015 following a second capital injection. We completed this angel round in July 2015 and it followed the small seed round that occurred in mid-2014 to kickstart the business.

This year, we secured another AUD $3.1 million in a series A capital raise, in part backed by Australian The Catch of The Day founders Gabby and Hezi Leibovich.

Undergoing three rounds of investment involved being extremely passionate, meeting a lot of the right people, having a validated MVP and having a strong authentic vision for the brand.

The stages in securing this investment included meetings, preparing forecasts, discussing our strategic vision, agreeing on the valuation, then the administrative side such as legal discussions and paperwork and filing ASIC documentation post the raise.

It is very important to have investors you have a strong relationship with based on mutual respect. This is determined by each individual shareholders’ agreement.

A commercially sound legal team is also key.

We worked with Dan Atkin and his team from KL Gates, who are truly amazing in every way.

You need to know what your deal breakers are, negotiating and finding common ground is key. It is very important to have investors you have a strong relationship based on mutual respect.

Two of our advisors became investors down the track. One of these was entrepreneur Justus Hammer, who founded and sold to Yahoo for $40 million back in 2011.

He not only elevated his role from advisor and investor but also joined the Mon Purse board.

Investment allowed us to scale fast.

Technology was key, as well as activating retail locations and investing in the engineering infrastructure of designing one bag at a time.

This was essentially disrupting the traditional manufacturing landscape.

Recently we launched a new version of our 3D online bag builder using PBR, a new modelling method from the gaming world to better represent colour and leather textures online.

Will Mon Purse continue to seek investment to drive this growth? Yes.

My advice to other brands would be very clear with your investors about your goals and vision, pick people you trust and make sure you deliver value to your shareholders.

This is an investment and not a donation.

Agree on what your shareholders’ agreement should look like and sign one straight away, never take money otherwise.

What helps in growing a business is failing fast and learning from your mistakes. Being agile, pivoting and listening to your customers. They will guide you.

In the early days. I wanted to wait to launch with a bag builder complete with 12 handbag shapes, 300 leathers per bag and the list goes on.

You will never launch if you seek perfection.

You have to start with an imperfect site or product, validate demand and grow from there. 

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