Need a funding boost? The dos & don’ts of pitching to investors (Part 1)

Blog, Business Sector

While some entrepreneurs will have private means to develop and grow their companies most are likely, at some point, to need help from investors. UCL EDUCATE’s Business Lead, Koby Yogaretnam, who has sat at both ends of the table as an investor and entrepreneur, offers tips on how to make your pitch stand out from the crowd, in the first of a two-part blog.

Get an introduction or referral

Investors receive hundreds if not thousands of unsolicited emails and they don’t have the time sifting through each one.  If you can, seek an introduction or referral from someone inside their network – a friend, colleague, lawyer or an entrepreneur from one of their existing investments who can put in a word, and draw their attention to your bid.

Dress for the occasion

Don’t take the Mark Zuckerburg approach of sliders and a hoodie. Sliders and a hoodie might feel comfortable and familiar but won’t create a good impression. By all means be comfortable, but also sensible and safe. Smart casual will always do the trick.

Research the investor’s expertise

Find out if the potential investor has an interest in your product or service. You will be facing an uphill battle if you try to pitch an EdTech business to a FinTech investor, for example.

Keep it short

In an initial meeting, focus on giving a two or three page executive summary for an investor to decide whether they want to meet you again and to hear more about your offering. They won’t have the time to review a 50-page business plan.

Become a master storyteller

A good pitch deck should be like a story. It’s a plot-driven narrative, and nothing captivates an audience like a compelling story. A good tale is easy to understand, to share and to get your investor excited in your idea.

Poor presentation design

This is often overlooked. Investors do not expect you to be a graphic designer, but a well-designed deck is more compelling and effective than a plain “vanilla” presentation. The power of design can often be forgotten but make this a priority and you’ll notice the difference.

Question Time

Listen carefully to any question and never interrupt a question by an investor. Answer what is being asked and repeat the question if necessary to ensure you understand the question.  If an investor is asking questions, it is a good sign they are engaged and interested. Don’t be offended if you’ve already covered the answer previously. Expect to get interrupted during your presentation.

No ‘I’ in TEAM – don’t come with your team and not let them speak

If you’re taking the time to bring your team into a pitch, make sure they’re involved in the discussion as this highlights the strength and depth of your team.

No jokes

Avoid turning your pitch into a stand-up routine. Stay away from being flippant or cocky in your pitch as your investors probably won’t know you well enough to understand your personality.

The second part of this blog will examine the points you need to include in your presentation. It will be published on Tuesday 7 May.

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