Every entrepreneur has had to put together a dog-and-pony-show and hit the road, trying to convince investors why this is the business that they really, really want to put their money into. It’s hard enough just to find the right contacts and get an appointment. Then, somehow the presentation is just flat, ending with an unenthusiastic, “We’ll get back to you.”
It’s important to know the audience. Research the potential investors to learn more about previous investments. If possible, talk to the founders of those companies. What motivated the investors? What type of investor are they?
Angels are wealthy individuals who invest for a piece of the equity. While the financial possibilities are significantly important, it takes more than a pretty spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation to get their interest – and their money. An angel can become a mentor as well as an investor.
Grab their interest with a personal story about the idea. Make an emotional connection and don’t be afraid to be passionate. A nuts-and-bolts product description of umpteen features won’t be as meaningful as an explanation of how this product will improve the user’s life. Explain what problems will be solved. Make the presentation a team effort; most CEOs make all of the presentations alone, but it’s reassuring to see a team of knowledgeable, passionate people.
If it’s a tech proposal, think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. The investor might work for a capital venture firm, but could be a nerd at heart. Talk about the technology and the user experience. This type of investor will understand the tech and know what it takes to get the venture off the ground. The investor will still be savvy about spreadsheets and ROI, but engage their interest, one nerd to another.
The numbers are everything. Don’t get so deep into tech talk that their eyes glaze over, but learn how to explain it simply. The numbers, on the other hand, will need to be thorough. They aren’t interested in becoming part of the family, just in making a good return on their investment. Wall Street can get nervous about pioneers; they’d rather let someone else take the initial risk.
Be prepared to take a different approach during the presentation if it’s not working. Try to figure out what would get their attention. Above all, don’t try to be like everyone else.