As a growth equity investor, I listen to hundreds of entrepreneurs pitch their companies. Pitching for funding can be nerve-wracking, even for seasoned entrepreneurs. But these pitches are crucial as you will never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Here's are a few ways to make sure you make the most of that one-off opportunity.
1. All about you
What is the single most important thing the VC will be investing in? You. The VC is ultimately backing you, and it is you who will hopefully make them a lot of money in return. I’m looking for integrity, passion and above all, an aspiration for greatness.
2. Be complete
Cover all the key points succinctly including the story behind your idea, the vision, market, team, product, technology, competition, financial plan and likely routes to exit. Bring your key team members and show off all their (and your) hard work.
3. Manage time
Every meeting is a mini test of your management style. If you can’t stay punctual in the pitch, will you in real life? There is always an opportunity for a follow-up meeting if the idea sounds exciting.
4. Know the competition
All viable ideas and markets have direct and indirect competition. Know who they are and what they are up to. Meet them and develop a working relationship. Be objective about their strengths and weaknesses. Remember the phrase: 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.'
5. Have a working and memorable demo
If a picture paints a thousand words, a cool demo is the equivalent to writing a novel. No matter what the idea, bringing it to life could take as little as five minutes of your presentation, but will add a whole new dimension to the story.
6. Help me make money
I love entrepreneurs and the difference they make in the world, but I also have to make money for my investors. Think about your business from that perspective and you will be well on the way to getting funded.
7. Question me
Ask me tough questions. Am I interested enough to have done my homework? Do I have relevant experience? What can I offer you, other than the money? What’s my work ethic? This is likely to be a long term relationship so you need to be sure our interests are aligned.
And finally, things to avoid: No matter how painful or difficult the answer to a question is, don’t answer a different question or ignore it altogether. If you don’t know the answer be frank about it. The pitch is the first date in a long relationship and engendering trust is vital.
Davor Hebel is principal of Fidelity Growth Partners Europe