Some entrepreneurs find pitching for investment a daunting prospect, especially if it’s something they aren’t used to doing. They don’t teach this stuff at university or in other professions – you have to pick this knowledge up on your entrepreneurial journey.
Since we made our recent announcement that Hassle.com has raised $6 million worth of Series A funding I’ve been asked a few times for tips on how to pitch to investors. The truth is it really doesn’t have to be as painful as you may think as long as you have the right ingredients to grow a successful business, such as:
- A solid, scalable idea
- A hardworking and talented team
- Passion and belief
Those are the key things you need to get across when standing face-to-face with your potential backers. You may only have five minutes to sell yourself and your business so make damn sure they are a five minutes which impress.
This is what I’ve learnt about pitching:
Be a compelling story teller
You need to have the ability to grab and keep your audience’s attention with what you’re saying and the way you say it. Your pitch should have a clear beginning, a middle and an end just like a good story.
People relate to things they connect with. Personal anecdotes work well; a ‘this was the problem and this is how we solved it’ approach. If you can, use attention-grabbing statistics to back up what you’re saying and avoid jargon. Break your messages down to a reading age of nine. People shouldn’t have to concentrate too hard to understand what you’re telling them.
When delivering your pitch, stand square with your shoulders back, pause before you start, make eye contact and project your voice. Be natural and personable. Make investors like and believe in you and show your passion. It may sound simple but it’s amazing how many people forget to do this.
Hassle.com matches users with ‘trusted and local’ cleaners
Planning and preparation are key
Plan, plan, plan! Know your stuff so that you can answer any question that’s thrown at you. Don’t allow yourself to become unstuck as this can seriously undermine your credibility regardless of how good the rest of the pitch is. Learn everything by heart so that you know your slides inside out and never ever read off them.
Research your audience. Do some digging about your potential investors to find out what makes them tick. This should give you some insight into what’s going to grab their interest.
Stick to headlines
Stick to your key messages. Succinctly explain what makes your business or idea unique and how you cut through the noise. Don’t put too much detail into your pitch. If you’ve captured the interest of investors they’ll ask for more information and if you’ve prepared thoroughly you’ll have the answers at the ready.
Don’t put more than ten words on a slide. Your slides should merely illustrate what you’re saying and make sure each one is focused. I’d recommend starting with one about the team and finishing with funding and allocation. Those in between should include information about the product and competition amongst other key aspects that investors will want and need to know about.
Alex Depledge recommends not becoming overly reliant on a slideshow
Give them more than they bargained for
In the background make sure you have a due diligence folder containing everything an investor might need including CVs of the key members of your team, a detailed business plan, a one-page summary document which you can send out immediately after the pitching process and any official documents and paperwork such as shareholder agreements. You won’t need this for the pitch itself but having all information to hand will demonstrate your professionalism.
Pick yourself up
If you get knocked back don’t lose all hope and faith in your ideas. Take on board the feedback and advice you’re given and make improvements to your pitch or business plan. Then get yourself back out there to get the results that you want. View any opportunity as practice whether successful or not. You know what they say…. practice makes perfect.