You know you’re on to something amazing, but how do you convince those holding the purse strings that it’s a goer? The folks at Hassle.com have some great insights on how they raised $6m by pitching their idea to investors.
Getting others excited about your business really comes down to three things, says Alex Depledge, Hassle.com’s Co-Founder: a solid, scalable idea, a hardworking and talented team, and passion and belief. When it comes to pitching, you’ve got five minutes to get all three elements across, so make sure you follow these practical tips.
First of all, Depledge warns, you must plan carefully. Savvy investors will have all kinds of killer questions lined up and if you haven’t got the answers, you’re doomed. You should know your presentation well enough that you never need to glance at your slides, you should have well-researched statistics at your disposal and you should have read up on who you’re talking to find out “what makes them tick.”
“Don’t allow yourself to become unstuck as this can seriously undermine your credibility regardless of how good the rest of the pitch is,” says Depledge.
Tell a great story
Using anecdotes, real life examples and a “this was the problem and this was how we overcame it” structure will engage your audience far more effectively than dry facts and figures – and, just like any good story, your pitch needs a strong beginning, middle and end.
Stand straight, speak up and make eye contact, keeping sentences short, jargon-free and easy to understand. Most of all, says Depledge, “Be natural and personable. Make investors like and believe in you and show your passion. It may sound simple but it’s amazing how many people forget to do this.”
Keep it simple
Pick out your “headline” messages: the absolute key things that you want your audience to remember. These, says Depledge, should be the things that really make your idea unique and how you will cut through the noise. You don’t need to go into too much detail as, if you capture their interest, investors will ask you more questions.
When it comes to your presentation, Depledge suggests limiting yourself to 10 words max per slide – just enough to support and reinforce the point you’re making. “I’d recommend starting with one about the team and finishing with funding and allocation,” she says. “Those in between should include information about the product and competition amongst other key aspects that investors will want and need to know about.”
Give them more than they bargained for
Whilst you don’t need to shoehorn everything into your presentation, make sure you have it to hand to whip out if you’re asked. For Depledge, that means creating a “due diligence folder” containing everything an investor might grill you about: a detailed business plan, CVs of key team members, any shareholder agreements or other important paperwork, and a one page summary of major points, ready to be sent out immediately after the pitching process.
Whilst the chances of you needing these during the pitch are minimal, says Depledge, “having all information to hand will demonstrate your professionalism.”
Don’t get downhearted
“If you get knocked back don’t lose all hope and faith in your ideas,” says Depledge. “Take on board the feedback and advice you’re given and make improvements to your pitch or business plan. Then get yourself back out there to get the results that you want. View any opportunity as practice whether successful or not. You know what they say…. practice makes perfect.”