You’ve got the ear of an investor at a social event, but it’s just long enough for an elevator pitch. Or you’re preparing for your first official presentation to seed funding. Maybe you’ve been through all that, but now that you’re seeking continued funding, you’re not sure if the same strategies apply. Learn how to talk to investors like a pro and get funding — speak their language, understand what they want to hear, and tailor your presentation appropriately.
1. Perfect the Brief Pitch
CEOs and people in high places have a lot on their plates. They don’t have much time for chit-chat and can become easily bored by presentations that drone on and on. You can develop and perfect your startup pitch until it comes off seamlessly and succinctly. This is one of the only things you have complete control over as an entrepreneur. So get it perfect.
Practice on unsuspecting people that have no knowledge of you or your product. You will be surprised (and sometimes humbled) by the feedback. Investors have probably heard thousands of other pitches, so make yours brief and make it stand out!
2. Demonstrate You Know Your Competition
Investors may have already met with your competition. Explain how your niche is different from the competition and what you’ve already researched. Be honest about how you measure up and don’t badmouth other good companies. You never know when an investor might be evaluating you and the competition as joint partners. If the competition honestly outperforms you, acknowledge what you are doing to address it.
3. Know Investor Lingo
Nothing’s worse than not knowing what to say in response to an investor’s question because you don’t know what they’re talking about! Your competition will know the basic terms. Get educated to impress, with investor lingo beyond the basics:
- Vesting Options – Terms and conditions proposed to carve up the rights for your startup, in exchange for various levels of investment.
- Startup Accelerator – Just a fancy name for taking a later stage startup with an established product and solid business model and driving it forward to get more operational performance and efficiency. Think of it as getting the most performance out of your already running engine!
- Crowd-Sourcing Equity – You’ve heard of crowd funding for causes online? This is a spinoff in which various entities pledge funds online in exchange for a share of the company.
- Super Angels – An emerging category of investors which are thought to be more knowledgeable and sophisticated than angel investors.
4. Handle a “No” With Grace
It is a long road to securing investors and even your best pitch may not land a new investor. But don’t chalk it up to a loss. A connection with a potential investor is valuable for your next phase, or even for your next startup. Thank the investor graciously and hold onto their contact information. The investor field is small, and your next “yes” could come from them or their colleagues down the road!
5. Investor Humor
Investment is a serious business, so we’ll end on an appropriate note. You can’t expect to survive a startup without having a lighter side, so here’s some investment humor for consideration:
- Value Investing – The art of buying low and selling lower.
- Institutional Investor – An investor who’s gained permanent residency at the funny farm.
- Market Correction – What happens the day after you invest.