So you’ve finally managed to bag yourself that all-important meeting with an investor. Well done! Everyone knows it’s super difficult to get your foot in the door. But, don’t get cosy just yet. Now the real hard work begins – figuring out pitching to investors! Luckily, we’ve put together these simple lessons for refining your presentation style:
Pitching To Investors – What are they looking for?
Your investor is looking for certain key things in your pitch in order to qualify you for investment. Your pitch needs to highlight certain points. For example, how will your business attract and keep customers? At the end of the day, investors are usually looking for low risk, high return investments so explain how your startup aims to deliver this.
Inspire confidence with facts. Predictions and projections look great on paper, but cold hard facts will really make your investor’s ears prick up. If you have it, demonstrate some initial cash revenue or an existing business deal you’ve made.
An investor also wants to see that the CEO has business skills. There’s no point sinking investment into an idea if the CEO can’t grow the business and lead the team to success.
Is your investor right for you?
There are so many different types of investor – VC funds, angel investors, investment banks – each type of investor has their own way of working which could impact on how you want your startup to move forward.
Do your research and work out whether they’re the right investor for your startup. If an investor usually only invests in UK businesses, it’ll help if you’re UK based too. Check out their blogs or websites. You’ll sometimes find helpful advice about how they like to be pitched to.
Plan your presentation
This seems like a complete no-brainer, but it’s so important. Even if you’re a seasoned presenter and you’ve planned your pitch to an investor inside and out, go over it again. Planning should take you a long time.
Plan everything, including what you’ll wear, where you’ll stand and what you’ll do with your hands. First impressions count and investors will be assessing your body language. If you’re not fully prepared you can’t sell yourself or your startup properly. And trust us, the investor will sniff this out.
Bear in mind what kind of audience you may have and plan your pitch around this (hint: it may be a mix):
Factual audience – these people like facts and detail up front so they can make up their minds quickly.
Creative audience – a creative audience will focus on the design of your slides.
Emotional audience – this kind of audience will focus on your personality and body language.
Don’t leave anything to chance. You don’t want anything to knock your confidence on the day. Which brings us to our next point…
The investor must have confidence in you. If you give them a reason to doubt you there’s no way they’ll part with their cash. Even if your startup idea is fantastic, investors will pass if they’re not 100% behind the entrepreneur. Pitching to investors is as much about you as it is your product.
Demonstrate your confidence by maintaining eye contact throughout the pitch. If you’re properly prepared, there’s no reason not to be confident.
Make a personal connection with the investor if you can, you’ll be much more memorable if you do. Tell the investor who you are, why you’re there, and why you’re passionate about your idea.
Talking about passion, your pitch should definitely have lots of this. Your investor will want to see that you have the passion and enthusiasm to drive your company forward. Now, of course you’re passionate about your startup idea, but think about how you can really get this across to your investor. Don’t assume that they’ll simply just get this.
For example, your idea is an app that utilises the latest technology to allow sole traders to receive payments. Only, that description doesn’t blow me away with excitement. Instead try ‘Our product allows sole traders to receive a payment from anyone, anytime, anywhere.’ Now I can feel the passion stirring.
Tell a story
Write your presentation as if it were a story. This is an old trick that marketers and advertisers have been using for years, but you can use it in your pitch too. Framing your pitch like a story allows you to take the investor on a journey, with emotional highs and lows. It’ll be much more memorable than a standard presentation.
Think about how you can weave a narrative into your pitch. Invent a fictional customer (or, even better, use a real example) to take on a journey. For example:
“Sally sells crafts by the beach. She can’t accept card payments and so loses 45% of the trade that comes into her shop. Our app allows Sally to take card payments.”
Include visuals in your pitch deck – just make sure they’re relevant. Research shows that pictures are quicker to comprehend than text and they’re more memorable. Great images will help your presentation stand out from the crowd, so it’s perhaps worth shelling out a small amount on some good stock photography or a designer/illustrator.
First impressions count:
Now, we mentioned first impressions earlier, but what we’re really talking about here is your elevator pitch, which you’ll lead the presentation with. It needs to be comfortably under one minute long. Any longer and you risk losing the attention of your investor. This is not easy, so spend some time crafting it.
It’s not that investors have the brains of goldfish, more that they’re very busy people who see tons of pitches all the time. You need to capture their attention instantly.
How long is your pitch deck?
Just like your elevator pitch, your pitch deck needs to be concise and to the point. Like we mentioned, these people don’t have long attention spans.
You should always prepare to have less time to pitch than you’ve been given in case plans change. Your pitch deck should allow you to get your main points across quickly. If you have 15 minutes to present in, you should have no more than 15 slides.
If pitching to investors goes well, there could be a Q&A at the end. Make sure you’re prepared for this. Also, it’s a good idea to have something that you can leave behind for further reading such as a business plan, executive summary or investment summary.