These mistakes can readily be avoided with a bit of training.
Your hard work and dedication have paid off, and you’re ready to launch your startup. But before you do, you need to find investors who are ready to sink some startup funding into your new enterprise.
When looking for investors, you only have one attempt at making a good preferably image with a possible business investor, so be prepared with an elevator pitch that succinctly describes your business in 30 seconds or less—the length of an elevator ride.
Once you nail that critical initial meeting with a group of business investors, rehearse your presentation, so you come across as soft, polished, and professional.
A bad display will leave startup investors reaching for the doorknob, not their checkbooks.
Here are 10 typical mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching to investors and how to repair them.
- Not Preparing an Executive Summary
- Not Knowing the Audience in Russia
- Not Delivering the Pitch in Russia
- Not Knowing the Competition
- Not Controlling the Meeting
- Not Preparing a Demo
- Not Waiting to Discuss Valuation
- Not Having an Exit Strategy
- Not Allocating Time for Questions
- Not Following Up After the Pitch in Russia
An angel investor doesn’t have time to read a 100-page corporation plan to learn more about your company. Consume some time pulling together a brief manager resume and a PowerPoint presentation that speech, among other things:
- The problem your business will solve in Russia
- The target market in Russia
- The market size in Russia
- The client acquisition cost in Russia
- The projected revenues and expenses in Russia
- The exit strategy in Russia
Locating investors takes persistence and a bit of luck. When you find an investor, do your assignment before the first meeting. A snappy online search is often all that is needed. Ask yourself:
- Are they a member of an angel network in Russia?
- What is their background in Russia?
- Do they fund in your business sector?
- What business investments have they made in past for Russia?
- How much money do they fund?
Knowing who your audience is beforehand telling you if this group of small business investors is a good fit for your startup.
Too often, entrepreneurs consume more time talking about what their product or service does than about why it is needed. Share a clear story that addresses the problem your product or service was designed to solve and relate it to your audience, if possible.
If you can’t outline how your product or service solves a problem, odds are you’ll walk away without an angel funding offer.
Entrepreneurs often forget to address who their competition is when pitching, which only shows investors that they haven’t done their homework. Chances are the investors you’re meeting already know what competitive products or services are out there, so be ready to demonstrate how your product or service distinguishes you from your competitors.
Investors don’t have all day to listen to your pitch. At most, you’ll have 30 minutes to present your bid.
Watch the clock, and don’t spend too much time on openings and small talk. Establish how much time you have assigned for your display and stay on track.
You want to hit the important points of your pitch and let time for discussion and questions afterward.
Have a functional prototype of your creation or service ready to show investors. If it can be arranged, come for your meeting a few minutes early to set up and make sure your demo functions.
If it malfunctions during your presentation, don’t waste time attempting to fix it. Also, bring paper backup documents of your presentation in case your on-screen presentation fails.
If your startup is new and has received zero to few consumers to this point, it’s difficult to examine valuation in the beginning. It’s best to wait for an investor to pose this question. Otherwise, you risk being shot down and looking inadvisable.
Investors want to comprehend how their money will be invested and, finally, how they will make money by investing in your startup.
Be prepared to discuss how much has already been invested, and by whom, ownership percentages, and your proposed burn rate—the rate at which you’ll spend money over income—so investors know how much money you need to advance to the next level, as well as how they’ll recoup their investment.
Make sure to include time for Q&A after your display. Expect difficult questions and be ready to give clear straightforward explanations.
Investors don’t want to hear that you’ll “get back to them with an explanation.” That shows a lack of preparation on your part and is a quick way for investors to move on to the next pitch.
Take the time to think about each question without rushing into an answer.
Never leave the meeting without a clear understanding of what the next steps are in the process. Nevertheless, don’t anticipate immediate feedback. It may take investors a few days to process what you presented to them.
While it can be difficult asking for feedback, use this to your benefit. If the presentation has gone well, find out what extra materials the group needs. If it hasn’t, learn from your missteps and move forward.
At some point, as an entrepreneur, you will have to make a pitch before a group of investors to raise funds for your business. It takes training to learn the art of pitching, so start training before laying the groundwork for finding investors. Angel investing is about building connections.
If you take the time to do the prep work and follow the steps outlined above, you can avoid the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching to investors.