You have a dream and you need someone to fund it, so you spend a few days scribbling out a business plan and proposal. You know (and hope) that those with deeper pockets than yours will hear your idea and realize that with a little help, your venture will change the world. So, you do the rounds; you talk up your idea at networking events and circulate your pitch to well-connected business contacts. Finally, you get a call back – investors want to hear you speak on your ideas. Excited, you burst into the interview prepared with a hundred-page summary and assurances that your business will take off with the measly help of a few million dollars. You’re laughed out of the room before you can load the first slide on your three-hour long powerpoint.
The truth is, “angel” investors are more likely to kick you to the curb than dump money into your pet project. Simply asking for money won’t earn you the financial support you need – so consider the following tactics for pitching your idea.
Would you trust a person who waved away your opinion or refused to listen to constructive criticism with your hard-earned money? Be humble, and try to connect with prospective investors on a personal level. After all, investors are more likely to back you if they trust and like you. As Mark Symonds writes in an article for Forbes, “Angel investors invest first in the entrepreneur, not in the business plan.”
Boil It Down
Investors have notoriously short attention spans and will likely tune out ff you head off on a long-winded diatribe about how you came up with the idea for your business. Keep it concise, and never veer beyond the bare bones in your initial presentation. Baybars Altuntas, Ambassador of the World Entrepreneurship and noted angel investor, insists that entrepreneurs never present business plans which exceed fifty pages, or give elevator pitches that last longer than five minutes. Keep it simple!
Research Potential Investors
Knowing an investor’s first and last name won’t help you after the initial pleasantries are exchanged. Do some digging before the meeting and find out what projects they supported in the past, and figure out which aspects of your venture would appeal to their business sensibilities.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
Never, ever say that you don’t know an answer to an investor’s question. Floundering during a meeting demonstrates to the investor that you are either incompetent or have no real understanding of what starting a business entails. Run practice sessions beforehand, and plan out answers for the questions you most expect to be asked. Then, dive into your material and become as familiar with it as possible. The last reaction investors want in a meeting is for a candidate to ask them for clarification on a pitch.
If you truly value your dream, put in the hard work required to impress investors and get the money you need to boost your project into prominence.