I hear more than a thousand business pitches a year and often I see amazing founders working on interesting new ventures who make very little headway in securing investment due to their approach. Fundraising can be one of the most time consuming activities a startup CEO goes through and figuring out how to stand out from the noise of pitches becomes an essential first step. You can have the best product or business plan, but if you don’t focus your fundraising approach, then you will find yourself spinning your wheels with very little progress.
Here are five quick tips that will give you a better chance for success in getting noticed by potential investors:
#1: Research Your Target Investor Before You Pitch
All investors have a focus, stage and thesis that drives their decisions. Too often I see entrepreneurs pitching investors who don’t invest in their type of business, industry or venture stage. That wastes a lot of time, for both of you. Instead of applying the “spray and pray” approach to your investment pitches, stand out from the crowd by researching both the firms and people you are going to pitch. Find trusted contacts in your network who are connected to your target investors and get a warm intro that shows you have done your homework.
#2: Start With a Tailored Elevator Pitch
A crisp 60-second elevator pitch will make or break your connection with a potential investor. You will be ignored if the investor can’t understand the basics of the problem you are solving. Keep it simple: explain the problem, how you are solving it, and why this is important right now. To really stand out, incorporate your investor research to tailor your pitch to show you not only know who you are talking to, but why they are the perfect fit to invest in your opportunity.
#3: Tell a Concise Visual Story or Show Your Product
Never send a business plan or deck blindly to investors. A visual one-page executive summary or AngelList profile link should be enough to give a succinct overview to a target investor. Most investment decks shouldn’t be more than 10 visual slides that outline the opportunity and get the investor excited about diving deeper in the business. Better yet, nothing makes you stand out more than if an investor can see your product or solution in person and in action.
#4: Highlight Your Team & Passion
Early stage investors fund people not companies. Almost all early investment decisions are not about your product or market. Make sure you highlight why you are the right team to pursue this opportunity and why you are so passionate about it.
#5: Always End With an Ask & Next Steps
Remember that the purpose of the business pitch is to get a follow-up meeting, not to close a deal on the spot. Start by outlining what you want and don’t be afraid to say a specific funding amount by a target date. Always communicate a path to the next action step, which could be getting the potential investor committing to the next meeting or trying your product.
Follow these five tips when approaching investors and you’ll have a much greater chance at standing out from the crowd and making a winning pitch.