How to build trust before sending a pitch deck? How can startup entrepreneurs build trust with investors before sending out their pitch decks?
Building trust is one of the most important and valuable things you must do before attempting to fundraise as a startup entrepreneur. If you are already sending your pitch deck out through cold spam marketing then you are already behind in the process.
If you want to raise a round of capital smoothly, swiftly, and on the optimal terms for your company, from your ideal investors, then start with building trust. Perhaps even well before you even begin working on slides or have clarified your startup idea.
The Value Of Building Trust, Before Asking For Money
If a stranger walks up to you in the street asking for a loan, how much are you likely to give them? If you receive a spam email from someone asking for money, how much are you likely to give them, and on what terms?
Contrast that with your best and most trusted friend or family member or child asking for support with their own business, after you’ve seen them applying themselves diligently for years. You want them to do it. You want them to succeed. They are the people you believe in. You want to make it easy for them, right?
This perfectly sums up the difference between cold emailing your pitch or trying to mob Mark Cuban at a Mavericks game with your pitch deck in hand after jumping over the fence, versus building trust and personal relationships with investors first.
Without this trust built first, there’s a 99% chance it’s a scam from their perspective.
The level of trust you have built with investors in advance of pitching is not only going to make the difference in getting yeses, but how much you can raise, the terms of the deal, and getting that all-important first lead investor to step up too.
Understand these factors when you’re working out how to build trust before sending a pitch deck.
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Connect Regularly & Hang Out
There are many ways to meet potential investors. It can be attending events and networking or simply hanging out where investors hang out. It may even start out online.
Don’t just collect names, numbers, and handles and put them in your contacts database. Then wait until your pitch deck is polished and you are just days away from bankruptcy and giving up before reaching out with your ask.
Trust is proven over time, through repeated interactions in different formats. This can happen in a pure formal business and professional capacity. Though it is even better when you add targets who know you and like you to trust you, to achieve the magic trifecta to every sale.
So, if possible you’ll be doing coffee, getting together for dinner or breakfast, watching sporting events together, walking, and more. At some point, funding you and partnering on something is just the next logical step in this relationship.
The details of what it is, may not matter near as much as that you are doing it together. You know that you’ve nailed it when you hear “whatever you are working on next, I want in.”
Just be authentic with it. After all, you don’t want to go through this with investors you don’t know, like and trust either. It works in both directions. Find them, vet them, build on that connection.
These nurturing and casual encounters also provide a chance to talk about things openly that you don’t really want to put in your deck. Also, remember that you are up against competitors they know or are introduced to.
Their business idea or product may be terrible compared to yours. Yet, for investors, it can be a case of a better devil you know than the one you don’t.
Remember, that investing in you requires putting their whole lives on the line. Their money, financial future, ability to care for those they love and make them happy, being able to sleep at night, their careers, and reputations with their own coworkers, bosses, and investors. That takes trust. It’s the main reason you should know how to build trust before sending a pitch deck.
Start Out Early
Sadly most entrepreneurs don’t think this far ahead. Often it is only after they’ve built a deck that they go looking for investors that it may fit. Then they have to fight the cold marketing battle.
Experienced entrepreneurs know that they need to be building relationships with their next round of investors far in advance. Before they close one round of funding, they are already strategizing and communicating with the investors they will be raising from in a year or so out.
This is even more important for the first serious round of your first startup. You have no trust built from previous rounds or ventures. Ideally, you’ll be starting this process at least a couple of years in advance.
Then it is natural, not forced or faked. If you haven’t then you really need to make this a top priority. You may even need to put almost everything else on hold until you’ve started this process.
Be Sure Your Online Presence Breathes Trust
People are going to look you up online. Serious people, and especially investors with capital have been accustomed to being approached for money and by all types of con artists and salespeople. Many who may be able to talk a better game than you.
Just as you may have learned to have your guard up to robocalls, cold callers, spam email and text messages, fake companies on social media sites, and sales promotions, it is the same for investors with entrepreneurs.
Just as you are going to check out other companies and people online, Google them and look up reviews, or ask your friends about their experiences, expect potential investors to do the same.
Before they give you any time professionally or even socially, they want to know you are the real deal. That you are who you say you are. You are not just over-exaggerating.
Get out ahead of this. Google yourself. Review all the places you show up online. What do they say about you? What do they say about you from an investor’s perspective?
Start by cleaning up your digital dirt. Anything that is going to cause investors concern. What issues or content may have them questioning whether you are qualified, will stick with this, or may be a huge lawsuit waiting to happen?
Check and optimize your website bio, social profiles, LinkedIn, and more. Invest in a professional copy to weave the facts together in the best way. These are the best strategies for figuring out how to build trust before sending a pitch deck.
Use The Press & Media
Another powerful tool to build trust is using the press and media to your advantage. If you are light on digital reputation and visibility, then build it up in advance.
Use press releases to get in the news. Use content on third-party sites with authority. Get mentions and appearances.
Bring these credibility factors together on your other online assets and profiles.
You’ll have a lot more trust and credibility if you can show that others have already trusted you with their capital. Even better if you can show you did well with the money they invested in you.
So, before trying to get to venture capital firms or other private equity and strategic investors, consider if there are other ways to build up to it, and enhance your trust.
Can you apply for grants, competitions, and awards? What about raising a friends and family round? Or joining a startup accelerator or incubator?
Ask How You Can Add Value For Them
Ask what you can do for them first. How can you help or add value for them?
The big problem out there, and the guard is up against those who want to take, take, take. Now it is easy to say you want to help, but if you really can in some way, that will go a long way to building trust.
Maybe it is introducing them to other startups they can invest in before you are ready to raise money yourself. Maybe it is giving them early use of your beta product to improve their lives and work easier.
Or maybe it is just finding some great talent to help them with a project, or securing a really hard-to-find bottle of wine for an important dinner.
Show That You Do What You Say
What is the definition of trust and proving trust? Isn’t it someone doing what they say they will?
That’s an investor’s biggest fear and risk, right? Investing in a startup or entrepreneur that doesn’t deliver.
If you show that you will and can do what you say, you greatly derisk the investment for them. As they say, past performance is the best predictor of future performance. That’s why we have credit scores.
Of course, investors want their founders to be incredibly optimistic, think big, and to go fast. So, it becomes equally important how you show that you will communicate and act when you fall short of what you claimed and promised.
A great way to accomplish all of this as you progress toward a raise is through regular investor updates. Start including your prospective investors in your updates.
Show them your progress, accomplishments, and challenges. Then the opportunities. Learn the process of how to build trust before sending a pitch deck.
When trying to build trust, you should also know how to schedule meetings with your investors. Check out this video where I have put together a few ideas to get you started.
Ask For Their Advice
This piece of advice has been shared quite a bit. Perhaps to the extent, it may have become cliche or disingenuous. Yet, if you can do it authentically, then it can be one of the best ways to grow your connection and move toward funding, as well as just getting great input.
Investors can give you their perspective from their side of the table, and with the experience of seeing many pitches and ventures.
They can help you optimize your pitch and pitch deck. If it isn’t a good fit for them, then perhaps they can direct you to better-fitting investors.
It shows you respect their opinion and can listen, and that builds trust too.
Get Introductions & Referrals
Introductions from someone they trust gives the feeling you have been pre-vetted. Having someone else referring and recommending you is always better than trying to sell yourself in any sales scenario.
Send A Good Pitch Deck
When it does come time to share your pitch deck with them, make sure you are sending one that is formulated in the right way and checks the boxes.
It shows that you’ve made that small investment in learning how to create a deck and researched them to make sure is a good fit and is respectful of their time.
If you can’t do that, then why should they trust you with their time and capital?
Taking the time to invest in building trust before trying to send your pitch deck to investors can be one of the most valuable and important and influential investments you can make in your startup.
These are some of the ways you can do that. Just make sure you can do it in an authentic and honest way. Learn how to build trust before sending a pitch deck.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.