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Raising money for a startup is a long process, but an important one. Securing funding may not be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In order to successfully pitch investors, you’ll need to move through several steps, from concept to pitch deck to the act of pitching itself.
Below are some pointers to help you navigate the process.
Clarify your message
Before you go looking for potential investors, get clear on your startup’s message. You need to have three simple sentences down pat that can sum up the following about your business:
- What’s the idea of your business?
- What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
- How is your business going to solve it?
Design a great pitch deck
Now that you’ve crafted that essential message, flesh it out into a pitch deck. Distill the concept of your product or service, your team and your story into verbiage that’s clear and concise.
The pitch deck should include 10 to 15 slides that lay out the idea of your company in simple, concise and energetic language. Avoid overloading your deck with excessive data, like spreadsheets. You want your deck to be engaging and easy to understand.
Below is the basic outline of an effective pitch deck:
State the big idea
The first slide should be your statement of purpose, or the concept that defines your company. Distill it down to one clear phrase, maybe 12 to 15 words.
Lay out the problem
What is your product going to solve? This is why your investors should care. They’re not going to put their money in something they don’t think matters.
How your startup is going to fix that problem
Have one slide that lays out the basic premise of your solution in the clearest, simplest terms possible. Potential investors should be able to easily repeat the idea to a colleague after your meeting.
Explain your business model
How are you going to make money? Who are your customers? Show your market analysis and the key data points that demonstrate that you know your stuff and your plan is solid.
Introduce your team
These are the people who are going to put your amazing plan into action. Show the concrete achievements of each person on your team. This is especially important if this is your first time as an entrepreneur. What transferable skills do your people have that will convince investors that your startup will be a success?
Lay out your projection
How much do you expect your company to grow in the next five years? How much money do you think it will make? Project realistic (but bold) outcomes.
What’s in it for them?
This is what it all comes down to. What are investors going to get by betting their money on you? And how are you going to ensure that they get it?
Identify your potential investors
There are plenty of venture capital and angel investor firms out there, and lots of money up for grabs. The key is determining which ones could be good fits for your startup, so do your research. Sites like TechCrunch have directories that can give you a lay of the land, so that can be a good place to start. Hone in on potential investors who are most likely to be interested in your business.
What have they invested in in the past? Are they focused on seed-stage investment? Are they focused on later-round investments in bigger amounts? What’s their stated mission? Identify the ones that seem like the best matches for what you’re doing and focus your energies there.
Investors want to see that you’re passionate, that you’ve got vision, that you’re trustworthy, and that you’ve got a plan that will benefit them. This is the beginning of a potential partnership, so you want to show you’re able to give and take, and you want to have a real human connection with them.
Make sure you’ve got a solid answer to any reasonable questions that might come up – and before you even get to the pitch meeting, practice your responses out on friends in the business world who can throw their own questions at you and help make sure your presentation is rock-solid.
Does it sound cliché? Sure. Is it still necessary to say? Absolutely.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. This is a part of relationship building with potential investors in the long term. Whenever you have updates, let them know. Even if they don’t invest now, they may want to later – especially as they chart your successes.
Now that you’ve designed a great pitch deck, practiced your pitch and delivered it flawlessly to investors, you’re well on your way to bringing your startup to the next level.
Do you have any pitching tactics that have worked well for you in the past? Please share in the comments section below!
Originally published Feb. 25, 2019.