So, you’ve secured a meeting with a potential investor; now what? The pitch can be intimidating, but preparing a thoughtful approach beforehand will put you in a position to leave a great first impression and lay the right groundwork for a successful relationship going forward.
Here are five tips to help ensure a great pitch, courtesy of the JumpStart investing team.
Tell a Compelling Story
One thing all great pitches have in common is a clear, logical narrative. Communicate to investors how you determined that there was a need for your product or service. What is the major gap or pain point in the market that you address? Why hasn’t it been addressed before? Why are you best positioned to address it right now? And perhaps most importantly, how do you plan to monetize your big idea?
Understand that to fit all of this into a short investor meeting you will be forced to oversimplify your business, and that’s okay. Investors recognize there is more to your business than what can be explained in a 20-30 minute pitch presentation. The overall objective is to captivate their interest and clearly define your value in order to continue the conversation beyond the initial meeting.
Focus on Clarity and Simplicity
Chances are, your potential investors will not be your target customers. Some won’t have more than a surface understanding of industry or market. Others might not know the industry at all. For this reason, it makes sense to stay out of the weeds.
Make it a point to walk investors step-by-step through your customer’s decision making process so they can better understand your industry, your customers and how they will make the choice to use your product or service. Remember, if you explain the process in a way that makes sense to someone who knows nothing about what you do, it will also make sense for everyone else.
Be Sure You Can Walk The Talk
At the first meeting, investors are usually still evaluating the entrepreneur’s credibility. And the most credible entrepreneurs rarely refer to themselves as rock stars or talk about how they are “one in a million.” Instead, they tell a simple, compelling story about why they are the best person to solve a particular problem, explain how they are doing so and give the investor room to reach their own conclusions.
Remember, investors are evaluating your idea, but they are also gauging your ability to think quickly on your feet, read the room and respond to coaching and constructive criticism in real-time. Confidence is essential in entrepreneurship, but it doesn’t replace knowledge and experience.
Be Realistic About Your Financials
Entrepreneurs sometimes feel the need to inflate revenue numbers or fib about milestones in order to peak investor interest. In reality, this kind of hyperbole in a first meeting is usually obvious and sets off all kinds of red flags for investors. So relax about the specific numbers and focus on the bigger picture. Most investors will not expect you to hit your five year projections right on the nose in your first pitch meeting. What they value is fundamentally sound logic and a plan for how you will execute your growth strategy today, tomorrow, next year and the year after.
Think of it like math homework, where you get points taken away if you don’t show your work. For investors, your current numbers matter, but what really matters is whether you can show them how your revenue will rise over time.
Don’t Fear Rejection
Realistically, investors can only fund a very small percentage of the companies they meet. Sometimes the concept is too early for them. Other times they want to see changes made or track the company for a period before a reevaluation. Either way, a “no” today doesn’t necessarily mean “no” tomorrow.
It can be hard to stay objective when you are struggling to raise money, but it always makes good sense to keep the conversation going with investors. Even if they have turned you down for funding in the past, keep them up to date with monthly or quarterly reports, or meet for coffee every few months. Things can change fast.
Remember, while it is vital that you provide data-backed evidence and a realistic growth strategy during your pitch, you should also be working to inspire and engage your potential investors. Keep the focus on what you have to offer the market and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and you’ll be well on your way to accessing the capital you need to grow.