Having introduced many startups to investors over the past few years (mainly through my investment events at Kukhula-Tech), I wanted to share some tips on how to maximize your startup pitch to investors.
Many startups walk away from investor events feeling very disappointed that they were not able to close an investment deal. Your goal at an investor event is not to close a deal, but to get the next meeting. No matter how fantastic your startup idea is, the fact is very few investors will actually commit to an investment at the very first meeting.
1. Create rapport.
You have to be able to connect with people so choose your representative wisely. Sending your developer to an event to meet investors might be a great idea if he/she is accompanied by a charismatic founder, and is just there to answer technical questions. But don't send him/her along as the only representative of your startup unless he/she is great at connecting with people and creating rapport. Creating rapport is a skill that anyone can learn, no matter how shy you are. And it's a skill that will improve with practice. (I'll explore this more in a future blog.) So just a few tips: make eye contact, hold the person's gaze and repeat the person's name back to them while shaking hands ("Lovely to meet you, Alex.") Smile and make sure your eyes are smiling too because a fake smile is immediately detected. I find that focusing on something positive about the person you are meeting helps to solidify a connection. Now that could either be complimenting the person on a talk you just heard, the nice suit they are wearing or the unusual colour of their eyes. People enjoy feeling appreciated or noticed. Then pay close attention and remain completely engaged while the investor is talking.
2. People invest in people they like.
Fact. If you make a great first impression and are likeable, your chances of closing an investment deal will improve dramatically. Unless an investor likes you and feels connected to the outcome, I'm afraid you won't get that investment. So become more likeable. That means you may have to do some work on yourself by becoming more self-aware. Don't be afraid to get feedback from mentors about what you can do to improve. If you are told that you come across in a very arrogant way, learn to be more humble. If you are not a great listener, learn to listen better. Nobody likes a loud-mouthed, arrogant person who talks the hind leg off a donkey.
3. The quality of your pitch matters.
I have literally heard dozens of pitches and mostly, I just want to yawn or walk away. If you cannot grab the attention of the investor right off the bat, you will struggle to keep them engaged throughout your pitch. You have to keep your pitch simple and to the point. Why is this a great product, why are you the perfect team to build it and why investing in this will make the investor part of the next best thing? You have to present with passion and conviction. The best advice is to practice until you are happy with your pitch and then to record yourself doing the pitch. Does watching it make you cringe? Then you can be sure the investors will cringe too! Record the best version of your pitch and send it to a trusted mentor for valuable feedback.
4. Follow Up.
I've been involved with Sales in one form or another for most of my career and one thing I've learned is that Persistence is King. Or Queen, depending on how you look at it. Exchanging business cards after delivering your pitch is not going to get investors banging on your door. You are the one that is going to have to follow up with emails and calls until you get that next meeting. How many emails should you send, you may be wondering? In my experience, most people generally only respond to an email the 2nd or 3rd time they receive it. Your emails can be spaced out weekly so you don't seem like a stalker. And remember to always end your emails with a call-to-action "Shall we go ahead and schedule a call to discuss this further?" And last but not least, end your email with a friendly tone, like "Looking forward to speaking with you."
Applying these tips will help you to create better rapport and improve your chances of securing investment. Good luck and go get that funding!
(Image by RAEng_Publications on Pixabay)