In a swamped marketplace, growing businesses eager for investment can struggle to be heard by venture capitalists and business angels. Rose Lewis, a partner at Pembridge Partners, explains how to attract investors to your business.
It’s well known that securing investment is extremely difficult. Venture capitalists see thousands of business plans each year and invest in only a handful. Business angels and “super angels” are more in demand than ever before, but they’re incredibly elusive.
So how can you get yourself noticed so that that it’s your business that gets the investment and not someone else’s?
The first step in gaining attention is to appear legitimate to the investor. Appearances are everything and to stand out from the crowd you must first and foremost present your team and your product or services as an investment opportunity. The initial meeting with a VC or angel will not get you the investment that the business seeks straight away. The goal should be a “hook” to securing a second meeting.
Then, network your way to your target investor. Who is your ideal investor? Write down a list of names and work out a path to get to them. A specific, targeted list of names is far better than a vague plan to email VCs. This could be a daunting experience but what’s the worst that can happen – they say “no”? The more you do this the better you’ll get.
You ideally want to get you to that ideal position of having two or more investors in a bidding war, or be able to have a mix of VCs or angels investing so it mitigates their risk further.
Also, find a mentor or join a mentoring programme, such as Understanding Finance for Business. Mentors can be invaluable as they’ll ask the tough questions and make you challenge your own bias, as well as inspiring confidence in your business. Mentors can also be the best advocates for your brand as they mingle with investors regularly.
In the connected world, remember to engage with the start-up and investment community through social media. Websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook allow you to have conversations with other entrepreneurs and reach out to investors.
Think of these platforms as a place where you would have a conversation with another person. Self-promotion turns people off so attempt to help someone online by answering a posted question or exchange ideas with others in a similar position. This will give credibility.
Lastly, make sure you’re always ‘on it.’ You must always be thinking in terms of sales – not just in terms of winning customers, but also always have the sales pitch for your business at the top of your mind.
You never know when you’ll bump into a perfect investor. You’ll only have 20 seconds to pitch so they won’t want to listen to your 30-minute presentation. Get the answer to the question “what do you do?” down to ten words or less and then practise, practise, practise.
For more information about Understanding Finance for Business, visit the website or contact Pembridge Partners.