Investors are presented with more opportunities than they can realistically filter: so how do you make sure you’re more than just a statistic to them?
Support for small businesses is increasing in the UK: it’s promising to see the Government’s support with startup loans, the rise of initiatives such as Small Business Saturday and increasing investment in small, but growing businesses.
All of this support is crucial, as it recognises the fact that small and medium enterprises represent the backbone of our economy.
The technology scene in particular has seen a boom and beyond the streets circling the Silicon Roundabout in Old Street, growing technology companies are on the rise in other parts of the country too (think Northern Powerhouse).
One of the burning questions for these businesses is on securing funding and understanding how to get an investor’s attention amid all the noise.
At ResponseTap, we were successful in getting that sought for investor attention and most recently, we raised £4m through private equity. Since the creation of our company at University with co-founder Richard Hamnett and subsequently our first external funding in 2012, our company has come a long way, with over 60 employees in offices in London, Manchester and Atlanta.
Having gone through two rounds of funding, we have picked up key tips and learnings that are key for all growing businesses that are looking to attract funding, whether it’s the first time or Series B and beyond.
Partner with the right people
Think about who truly believes in the company and will bring value to it as an organisation. It’s not only about the money, although cash is obviously what you are seeking.
Depending on what stage of funding your business is at, it’s worth bearing in mind that in the early phases, financial backers tend to put a lot of emphasis in the founders and the strength of the management team, over and above other factors. Although there obviously needs to be a large enough market opportunity and your plan needs to stack up.
Stats, stats, stats
That leads to the next point of knowing your stats. Investors want to know the numbers, so make sure you are always up to date with the latest digits in all aspects of your company.
You need to know these back to front and if you don’t, get someone who does. This will affect how you will answer the types of questions that investors will ask, including: how will you make money? How will you make money for your investors?
How are you going to close sales? What are your marketing expenses? Can you actually grow that fast? What will you do if you do not hit your numbers? Make sure you have proof points for all these questions before you start talking to investors.
Show off your team
As a growing technology company, you worked hard to build the team you now have, so show investors how the team in turn is passionate about the company. Particularly in earlier round, where you do not have a proven business model.
As the investor’s focus shifts from proving out the business model to growth, the team should remain a focus as the investors need to be confident that they can deliver on the ambitious plan you present to them. You cannot deliver without your team, so ensure you show investors why your team is best placed to execute on your plans.
When it comes around to pitching time, stand out from the crowd by delivering a memorable, short but sweet pitch. It may be easier said than done, but what will differentiate you from the countless other technology companies is the point you bring across in a short time frame.
If you can keep the pitch concise while bringing it to life, the formula will be cracked. The whole time while you pitch, make sure you remember to think from the investor’s perspective: if you want to be taken seriously you have to always refer back to your business plan. Don’t confuse them with long detailed technical information about your product. Show them why your team and product is more likely to succeed in the market.
Ross Fobian is the CEO and co-founder of Call-based Marketing Automation company ResponseTap. He has won awards for his work in growing his business, including ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award at the London Loves Excellence Awards and ‘Digital Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year.’