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Pitching Investors the Right Way

Posted by Amity Sims on 2013-12-26

Founder Insight gives you feedback from the startup trenches.

In this post from the Wicked Start blog, New York Founder Institute mentor, Bryan Janeczko,  shares some key tips for pitching your startup to investors. "One of the toughest moments in your business life will probably be asking someone else to give you money to fund your dream", says Bryan, so you should come in as prepared as possible.

Below, Pitching Investors the Right Way has been republished;

 

"One of the toughest moments in your business life will probably be asking someone else to give you money to fund your dream.

Usually it’s a pretty large sum, and most people don’t have experience with asking for that kind of money. But working through the Roadmap at Wicked Start will help you plan so you are in good shape when it is time to make your investor pitch.

Your pitch should include a description of your company, your market, your cost and revenue structure, and the way you would use the money from the investor to build your business. Once you know what you’re going to say, make sure you practice, practice and then practice some more.

When you pitch, it can be important, depending on your business, to ask a potential investor to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before you share key business information with them. Some potential investors won’t sign them, and you have to determine the level of trust this potential investor deserves. Many investors don’t sign NDAs since they see so many deals, but assure trust based on their reputation – which would quickly sour if they blabbed secret deals all over town.

There are different kinds of pitches for different investment levels. Angel investors typically invest their own money, with groups aggregating between $50,000 and $500,000 (some more, some less). These investors are often looking behind your numbers for a scalable business model that will grow quickly. They’re looking for that unfair advantage you can bring that reduces their risk (because that increases your likelihood of success). They like to see that you’ve already tested your business model with some early clients, have people ready to order, or other indicators of future success. They also want to know that you’ve put your own money and the money of your friends and family at risk first.

Once you’ve shown the potential investor the value of your business, and you’ve made your pitch, ask for an investment. It may seem obvious, or even foolish, but part of the “test” may be your ability ask for that money. It shows your confidence in your business, and proves you’re willing to do something potentially very difficult in order to get that business working. It shows you’re willing to ask a potential client for a sale.

If you get a “no,” don’t assume it is a final answer. Ask what additional information or actions you can take to change their mind. Some investors want to see more customers or they want to understand the way your business is growing over a few months. Some may even offer advice on how to build your business further so they will invest. Ask about your presentation and what items you can improve. Inquire if they know other potential investors who may like the kind of business you do, or may have different investment criteria. Keep in touch with people you’ve pitched and update them on your progress, since your company isn’t the only one they are considering. Many investors have a network of companies with which they’re involved. If you show them your business is better than they expected, you may land a future deal with them, or gain sales from another company they advise.

The pitch isn’t the final step – it is just one step on the road to growing your business. Do you have any experience with pitching investors? Share your tips in the comments section below."

Check out more from the Wicked Start blog here and follow Bryan on Twitter at @WickedStart.

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