Pitching your business: advice from the experts » SMEInsider

Pitching your business: advice from the experts

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If you’re looking to grow your business the chances are that, at some point, you’re going to have to pitch it to investors or potential partners. Here, four insiders share their tips and advice.

Tim Mills, Angel CoFund

Tim Mills is an investment director at Angel CoFund, which invests in high potential SMEs.

“There’s nothing quite so disheartening as seeing a 100-page business plan. A nice two page, very crisp, clear overview is a great way to introduce the business.

“When you are making that first pitch, all the rules of marketing and advertising apply. It’s about being able to get your message across clearly and having a call to action of some sort.

“Fundamentally as an investor it is all about pricing the risk. Anything that can give you comfort that the risks are mitigated makes it more appealing.

“What you are really looking for in a pitch, initially, is to feel confident that there is an opportunity there, that you have a team that can execute against that opportunity,

“One of the challenges is that they start with the solution, which is obviously the most exciting bit, and they tend to be good at talking about the opportunity, but probably the area they are weakest is articulating why they as a team can execute against that opportunity.”

 

Cheryl MacDonald, YogaBellies

Cheryl MacDonald, Founder of YogaBellies, succeeded in negotiating £50,000 of investment during an appearance on Dragons’ Den.

“The first thing for pitching is you have to know your numbers, you can’t go in and not know them.

“We were very, very prepared. We knew the business inside out, we knew the figures inside out, we don’t have any business debt and it is a profitable business from day one.”

 

Ross Fobian, ResponseTap

Ross Fobian recently raised £4m through venture capital for marketing automation business ResponseTap

“One of the key things for us was finding the right partner. Getting investment isn’t just about the money. You get a lot more value when you get someone who believes and understands and has the right network behind them.

“Investors don’t necessarily invest in the business, especially first stage investors. They are actually investing in the founders, seeing what they have done, their drive, their passion. Obviously they have to have a company behind them that makes sense, but if they don’t like the founders they won’t invest.

“The main difference between the first and second round is the first is very much about the founders and our passion for the business,

“With the second round we had a lot more numbers and rather than it being about us, although they still have to like the founders, it was very much a case of being focused on the numbers.

“It is quite important that you have some concept of market size. If you are going for venture capital they are looking for big returns and for something that could be big.”

 

Sir. Richard Branson, Virgin Group

Richard Branson, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, recently spoke to an audience at 30:30 Vision on how small businesses can secure investment.

“You need to stand out from the crowd…To do that you need to keep it really short, as short as possible. And do it with a smile if you are good at cracking jokes.”

“The most important thing is to be concise. My own feeling is that a good idea can be written on the back of an envelope.”