3 ways to impress a US investor » SMEInsider

3 ways to impress a US investor

British investors can have a reputation for being stuffy and cautious, but their US counterparts tend to be richer, brasher and more willing to take a risk. That’s great news for an exciting new startup – but you’ll have to work hard to capture their imagination.

US firms and investors often take a favourable view of UK companies, but our British reserve and comparative reluctance to blow our own trumpets makes it harder to stay top of mind in the fiercely self-promoting world of American business.

If you’re set on seeking your fortune across the pond, here are 3 essential pieces of advice to help you make a good impression.

1. Get introduced

Calling up out of the blue is unlikely to get you in front of a VC. On the other hand, American business networks tend to be very strong, so focus on building up your pool of connections and then getting them to put you in touch with the right investors. This might take more time, but it means that, by the time you meet them, you’ve already been recommended to one another by a mutual contact, who has probably vouched for your or at least put your business into a familiar context, saving you some of the initial icebreaking stress. It’s worth talking to Angel Investment Networks, embassies and organisations like UKTI to see if they can make introductions, too.

2. Ask for lots of money

If you’re used to pitching to Brit, your natural impulse will probably be to ask for just as much as you think you need, prove that you’re not a total liability, then ask for more when you’re ready. This tactic will not go down well in America – they expect you to have big ambitions and vision from day one. Rather than asking for the minimum to get off the ground, ask for the maximum you could realistically handle if you were to fast-track your company into the kind of business that you secretly dream it could be in five years’ time. This might not come naturally, but it’s time to drop that British humility.

 3. Make sure there’s an end in sight!

Ten years ago, some American investors might have been willing to sink a small fortune into a pipedream, but that’s certainly not the case anymore. New ideas and innovations are fantastic – just make sure you know what happens next, because they’ll want to know that the money they’re putting in will help you launch a fully operational company, not just cover the R&D or lay the foundations for an idea with uncertain commercial application. Bear in mind that one of the big reasons that US investors are interested in UK and European companies is that they are diversifying their portfolios to balance their risk, so even though they might be less risk-averse than the Brits you’re used to, they’re hardly going to through all caution to the wind. As ever, you need a watertight business plan and compelling evidence that they’re going to turn a profit from your big idea.