Getting investors is an intimidating challenge for many entrepreneurs. It’s also an important step for growing your company into a business that can acquire customers and scale as rapidly as possible. Fortunately, investors are just people that have basic needs you can meet. You should approach finding investors just like you would new customers. If you followed our app testing guide then this should be very familiar.
Investors are very demanding customers. You’ll need to convince them that your business will make money and give them a return on investment. What many investors are looking for is the prospect of getting a 10X return on whatever they initially invested. This is a general rule of thumb and is definitely not true of all potential investors. It is helpful to frame your presentation within those expectations so that you have the strongest pitch possible. Let’s walk through 3 steps to making your pitch perfect.
Step 1: Proven Market Validation
Market validation is the best evidence that your product is going to make money. You need firm data that people are looking for a solution to their problem, and that your product-market fit is positioned just right so that they will hand over their hard-earned cash.
Investors are much more likely to invest in something that already has people excited about it. If you refer back to our post on testing a mobile app, you can see the full outline of testing your MVP and getting feedback from prospective customers.
Plan to provide data on your target market. How large is your total market, and how much of that market do you expect to reach in a year? In 2 years? In 5 years? These types of questions will alleviate concerns and paint a rosy picture of sunshine and profits in your investors’ considerations.
Step 2: Scalable Business Model
How does your company make money? This is one of the most important questions an investor will consider. Founding a tech startup is not the same as establishing a new restaurant, you need to show how your business will scale up to many times the size it is today.
Consider your costs versus expected revenue as your business grows. How many employees would it take to manage 10 customers versus 1,000 customers? Some processes you rely on now might not be scalable, which is important to consider when planning your growth. It’s smart to consider multiple revenue streams whenever you present to an investor. Having opportunities for upsells, services, or data mining are all possibilities for expanding how your business makes money.
Step 3: The Perfect Presentation
This is where we move from the hard business acumen to the soft presentation skills. A good investor is always looking for a person they can invest in as much as an idea. You should look at a pitch as one of the most important conversations of your life, and treat it with the same care and attention to detail that you would in an important job interview or even a wedding proposal. After all, you are intending to be financially and personally tied to this person for years to come.
Take the time to make sure any visual aids are as professional as you can make them. Ask for feedback from your friends and colleagues. Rehearse your material until you feel confident you can recite them, with enthusiasm, from memory. Look your audience in the eye and most importantly, believe in what you are saying.
The most important variable for getting your pitch right is practice. Practice your elevator pitch in front of the mirror until you feel comfortable. Then practice in front of your dog, and then your Mom, and then a co-worker, over and over until it’s natural to go pitch it to an actual business owner. Remember that every mistake is a learning opportunity that makes you a better business owner.