If you’re launching a startup, odds are that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how you’re going to acquire the seed funding you’ll need to bring your product to market and succeed as a business. And this makes sense. Most entrepreneurs are not able to finance their emerging companies out of pocket, and even if you could your accountant would probably advise against it.
Investors play a central role in the product development and startup space. You’re going to need to win them over if you’re going to realize your vision. That means that you need to have prepared a powerful and compelling investor presentation that will communicate your enthusiasm and your conviction in your product to your potential investors.
To do that, you need to know who your investors will be.
Angel Investors Versus Venture Capital
Often it is the dream of an inventor or entrepreneur to take their idea to a renowned venture capitalist, amaze them with a killer investment presentation, and walk out of the room with millions of dollars of investment secured and all of their funding problems solved.
Experienced entrepreneurs understand that this is, in almost all cases, an unrealistic expectation. While venture capital is often touted in the media and in the public, it is not the funding model appropriate to all products or companies. Forbes contributor Dileep Rao actually advises startups that venture capital is only available for a tiny percentage of entrepreneurs — less than 1%!
The startup market is a much different thing today than it was fifty years ago, and the old model of fundraising doesn’t necessarily work for everyone in the modern fast-paced, innovation-driven economy. Venture capitalists are typically looking for a fairly well-established business with proven profitability and manufacturing well under way. They’re usually looking for high-risk, high-investment situations, often involving $3 million or more.
This makes them extremely selective in whom they fund. Most startups and inventors will probably never actually meet with venture capitalists. To meet the needs of the modern entrepreneur, a whole new class of investors has emerged in the digital era. Angel investors, unlike venture capitalists, are often putting their own money on the table. They tend to be more interested in the project itself, beyond just it’s profitability (though you can be sure they care about that, too).
Angel investors typically are more flexible, demand less structurally from the companies they invest in, and are more willing to deal with startups. Understanding who your investors will be is critical to creating a successful investor presentation.
Know Your Vision/Elevator Pitch
Remember that the people you are going to be pitching your product to are just that: people. They live and breathe in the same world as you, and chances are you share some commonalities. Maybe the most important thing you can do (or fail to do) during your investor pitch is to convey to your audience the passion and enthusiasm you have for your product.
You need to convince your potential investors of your value proposition: the unique benefits that your product will bring to the market, and to the world. Yes, this means facts, figures, and graphs. But you also need to go beyond the bare numbers and communicate to your audience why this product is important to you, and why it should be important to them.
It’s easy for any presentation to get bogged down in details and facts. Any investor is going to care about your financials and your revenue model, sure. But very few investors are going to be interested in sitting through 50 slides of cost-benefit analysis and profit forecasts. In other words, you can’t bore your audience, you have to get them excited.
Deliver the important data with appropriate graphs and tables, but do not neglect to connect with them on a personal level. Do not be afraid to tell your story. Remember that pictures speak louder than words.
Your presentation should begin with a clear, succinct statement about your vision for your product and a description of how this product will change the world. Use the strength of your conviction to make them believe in you, and then show them that you’ve got the numbers they need to feel comfortable in their investment.
Explain the Problem
After you’ve delivered a compelling and convincing elevator statement and expressed your vision, it’s time to get into the specifics. The world is not perfect — there are problems. And you’re ready to solve them. But first, you’ve got to convince your investors that there is a problem, and it’s one that they should involve themselves in solving.
Know the specific issues that your invention or product will solve. Are you looking at reducing inefficiencies with an existing technology or industry? Have you developed a new tool that will improve workplace safety, or a new medical device that could save lives? Your product doesn’t literally have to save the world, but it has to meet a real need that is felt by the community your product will serve. Your job is to convince the angels that their money would be well spent solving this real-life problem. Your presentation should make them feel this problem.
You want for your overall presentation to deliver a kind of narrative. In that narrative, your value proposition/elevator pitch are like the introduction: they tell your audience who you are, and what you’re about. Next comes the description fo the problem — this is the background, setting the scene. If it were a novel or a movie, this would be the part where the beleaguered villagers pray for a hero to emerge and rescue them from the villain.
The story up to this point has to be compelling. The investors want this problem to be solved. And then you tell them how your product can do it.
Revenue Model and Financials
This is the action. You have to show your investors that you and your team are ready to take on the villain and save the day. You’re going to show them how you not only have the vision, you’ve got the numbers to back it up.
Don’t be afraid to get into the financials early in the presentation: this is the data that they are waiting to see, so don’t keep them waiting. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in specifics. You don’t need to tell them everything, and over-sharing can be just as bad as under-sharing. Remember that these investors are probably seeing a lot of these presentations. An investor isn’t likely to get involved if they find your presentation boring. Show them the critical data: the numbers that support your overall presentation narrative.
It’s important to do market research. If you can bring testimonials or commentary from actual or potential customers, that’s great. That shows that there is a legitimate need for this product and that there is a real market out there waiting for it. That’s the kind of thing investors like to see.
Make use of visual aids like charts and graphs to communicate your facts and figures in a compelling way.
Show Off Your Team
When you’re trying to launch your own startup, it can be hard to delegate to others and give up control. But investors know that no CEO can possibly know everything there is to know about a product or a company. If possible, take advantage of your investor pitch to showcase your team and demonstrate the talent pool you have behind you.
If you can, avoid delivering the entire presentation by yourself. Remember that angel investors are the primary funders for startups. As Forbes contributor Carmine Galo says, to win them over you have to “reach their minds and their hearts.” Showing that you’ve got a team behind you shows that you’re serious, and that you’ve already won others over to the project. You want the investors to join your team. Don’t be shy about showing them what that team is all about.
Ask For the Money
This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but many people actually find it difficult to actually ask for the money. Obviously, this is the entire point of the pitch in the first place, but there’s just something about us that makes asking for money hard. Even after an eloquent and masterful presentation, some entrepreneurs get shy and clam up when it comes time for the ask, and this is a big mistake.
Remember that narrative you’re building throughout the presentation. The ask is the climax. The ask is the moment we’ve all be waiting for. This is when you give the investors and opportunity to get on board with this great project that you’ve spent the last 20 minutes telling them all about.
Be confident in your ask. You’ve explained the problem, you’ve shown how you have the solution. The missing part of the puzzle is the seed funding, and that’s why you need these investors on board. They won’t regret it — investing in your product would be a great idea, so don’t shy away from asking them.
Don’t be afraid to get into the specifics. It is okay to ask for a specific amount, and it’s even better if you can show precisely what you will do with that money and how you will convert it into the potential for profit down the road. Tell them where that money will get you.
The confidence in your ask is just an extension of the confidence you’ve displayed since you made your initial vision statement and elevator pitch. This is the climax of your pitch, so don’t chicken out at the last moment!
Unless you’re very lucky, you’re going to be making several of these presentations. Learn from your past experiences, and you’ll grow more confident and competent as you grow in experience. As your company grows, always be updating and improving upon your pitch. It should grow with you.
Your investors will provide you with the funding you need for your project to be successful. Cad Crowd can provide you with everything else! From CAD design services to USPTO patent services to rapid prototyping, our suite of services for entrepreneurs and inventors. Get a free estimate today.