Your eloquence and persuasiveness are unparalleled when you’re standing in front of the mirror. But the moment you get the chance to meet potential venture capitalists, this high level of self-esteem evaporates. You were preparing for this moment, though. What could go wrong? Well, numerous things, from avoiding eye contact and maintaining a bad posture to being outside the investor’s interest.
Sourcing funding has become an option for many businesses, carrying them through tough economic times to prosperity and innovation. The already-forgotten pandemic energized venture capitalists, raising their appetite for investing in promising enterprises. But with the boosted inflow of funding came tighter competition. More venture capitalists today than ever are foraging for revolutionizing businesses to find a new equilibrium.
That doesn’t make the fundraising process easy for entrepreneurs, either. On the contrary, VCs aren’t looking for a return on investment only. They focus on positive long-term relationships.
Your fundraising efforts will vary depending primarily on your location and the type of business you’re running or plan on launching. But no matter whether you have a fundraising talk with your distant relative who happens to be an investor or a company you know nothing of, preparing and delivering an accurate and convincing pitch is unavoidable.
But first, what is a pitch? And second, how do you create it and ensure it leads to closing the fundraising deal? The answers to these and other questions are below, so read on to learn more.
Pitch in a word
Typically, pitching comes in three forms: Standard pitch, elevator pitch, and pitch presentation.
Briefly, they mean:
- A standard pitch is a short presentation that provides stakeholders and investors with the core idea, its significance, and its innovation. This type aims to spark investors’ attention, so it usually requires utilizing additional resources like an awesome brochure maker to include eye-catching visuals and brief and accurate explanations.
- An elevator pitch is a one-minute talk focused on delivering an idea and persuading the interlocutor when in the elevator (hence the name). Its main goal is to spark the person’s interest and secure further discussions.
- A full-fledged presentation entails building a comprehensive plan and explaining your strategy to utilize potentially invested resources, address challenges and weaknesses, minimize risks, etc.
Make contact with investors
While the US, Canada, and many European countries have business startup accelerator programs that select and bring the best-suited investors to entrepreneurs, it’s not uncommon if you’re not part of such programs. In this circumstance, you need to work for leads independently. Gladly, doing so is manageable, thanks to tech prevalence.
You’re encouraged to utilize all the channels and resources at hand to increase your chances of succeeding at fundraising. Begin with working with your personal and professional network to get a referral to a venture capitalist. Your connections may be unable to refer you to people they know immediately, asking for more details on your plans first. If that’s the case, be ready to present a standard or elevator pitch to them so they can pass it on to the investor.
Besides writing to your network, contacting investors via cold calls, emails, and direct social media messages can be helpful. The tricky thing about this tactic is that it’s a pitch in itself, so packing a punch in it is the only option to get the desired attention. Give a snapshot of your product, provide info on users, revenue, partnerships, investors, and growth, and sum it up with a clear ask regarding money and valuation.
Remember: It’s not a complete pitch but a compressed version. You need to be able to pick it up and shoot your shot, attempting to make the first impression unusual and exciting.
Research potential investors beforehand
It’s essential to have an in-depth knowledge of the person you’re reaching out to cooperate with and get funding from. Not only can it help you understand the VC’s investment strategies and experience, but it will also make an impression of being a diligent entrepreneur interested in building relationships that exceed funds.
While the research can span myriad aspects (not to mention its depth), try to know the VC’s investment history and preferences at least. Is your target’s portfolio present in one or multiple areas? Are they related to your industry? How does the VC act in challenging market situations based on previous investments?
Also, analyze market trends and what your target investor pays close attention to. It can help you understand whether the VC is more conservative or flexible in their approaches.
Researching potential investors goes a long way. It will help you create a list of backers and put them in the proper priority so that you’re more likely to find a VC that aligns with your vision, interests, operation area, and experience.
Develop a thorough business plan and financial projections
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, composing a thorough and well-detailed plan first and building less extensive versions afterward is the most effective method. A multiple-page program before your eyes will help you get the bigger picture and emphasize the most crucial elements without getting into intricacies.
A comprehensive plan must include a clearly defined strategy, robust market analysis (continuously updated), revenue models, competitive landscape, and ways to tackle related problems, projections, and more. While the number of points varies by numerous factors, these are the most familiar beats of a well-structured pitch:
It all starts with a particular problem containing different pain points. Your task here is to identify the problem in the field and what it leads to if unsolved. Ensure to elaborate on the issue and its repercussions if left aside. Doing so creates empathy for clients and urgency for finding an effective solution.
A pitch doesn’t tolerate cliffhangers. When you voice a problem, it should be followed by an immediate solution. You don’t need to work around various scenarios or address every possible pain point. Your goal here is to immediately inform the audience how to handle the main issue.
Describing your product takes a central stage in the pitch, so making it persuasive is crucial. Don’t get into too much detail about it, though. Instead, focus on describing how your product can resolve the root problem. Plus, explain how unique your product is and why others can’t replicate it.
Moving to the market section is crucial to back up your product features with actual numbers. VCs will want to know the target audience and its volume when facing the problems you’ve depicted earlier. Information on market size and customer segments will help backers learn about potential revenue growth. Whether your product follows a B2B or B2C model, ensure to include data-driven insights and empirical evidence showcasing market traction and possible user adoption.
Competition and risks
Time-and-trusted corporations are experts in knowing their products, customers, and competition. Once you provide enough information on your product and clients, move forward to an equally important element – competition.
A rigorous competitive analysis shows that the features of your product do not blind you and that you fully realize where you stand, who your rivals are, and, most importantly, how you plan to win the competition. Whether you use Gartner’s Magic Quadrant or any other approach to outplay competitors, ensure the strategy you rely on is the best for your industry and business.
Identify potential risks and challenges the project might face. Importantly, be able to present solid mitigation plans to address and minimize the risk, be ready to address questions from investors, and train to resolve artificial scenarios to show you are knowledgeable in the field and are serious about your intentions. Be prepared to answer how you will handle unforeseen challenges. Doing so will make your project’s ability to navigate difficulties firm.
Upon demonstrating your strategy to address competition and risks, it’s time to present a clear execution plan. Since it’s the most critical thing for VCs, ensure this section is most detailed. Among other things, include a comprehensive business plan with gross revenue, margins, profits, and price points. Have an answer on how you’re going to arrive at these numbers. Marketing efforts and supplementary aspects are also crucial to add to the plan.
Traction, projection, team
The previous section explains your goals and ways to achieve them. While the former might seem doable, seasoned VCs will take the latter with a grain of salt. That’s where the traction, projection, and team section comes in. Leverage this part to show what you’ve reached and what you’re honing in on. Include information about revenue clients, user stats, team, and operating capacity.
Additionally, include a business forecast with different assumptions and stress-test them to understand their performance under certain circumstances. Coupling predictions with detailed team descriptions will help you strengthen VCs’ confidence in your plan and product and set the right tone for the last section.
The ultimate point touches upon asking the amount you need to accomplish your goals. Detail how much you need, explain what you will spend it on, and how it will enhance the brand. We encourage you to dive deeper into explaining the use of funds to achieve particular milestones regarding break-even points, growth traction, etc.
Post-pitch follow-up strategies
While presenting is the most important part of pitching, don’t neglect the post-pitch follow-up. Investors may require additional information on your business and plan, so be ready to provide such things. Structure a comprehensive post-presentation communication plan detailing steps and communications to address VCs’ concerns and questions.
Keep in mind that the moment from which you present a plan to get funding can be stretched in time for a reason. A VC can re-evaluate your business or test your patience. In any case, plan for continued engagement, proactively addressing feedback and providing clarifications.
Fundraising for business is an activity where your narrative plays a considerable role. While a plan with numbers is critical, more than a rigid analysis is required to persuade investors. Having a top-notch narrative is an element that can tap into investors’ timbre of emotions and move them to act based on their gut feelings.
Being original is essential these days, so don’t hesitate to add a touch of personality when seeking funding. It’s always a good idea to show creativity when reaching out to VCs as long as you have accurate data and insights at hand, can utilize them effectively, and are ready to answer related questions. Be clear in your vision and resources needed to grow, and ensure to highlight the value you’ll provide to the funders. Your preparation and a well-delivered story will help you achieve this goal.