Neil Patel

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

    Raise Money

    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.

    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?

    Summary

    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.

    For more information you may enjoy the video below where I cover How To Build trust Before Sending A Pitch Deck in detail.

    * * *

    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:

    Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to build trust before sending a pitch deck. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way, you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.

    Trust is everything when you’re raising money. Obviously, when you’re out there and you’re raising the capital, the investors are going to want to review that pitch deck. But before you even send the pitch deck, there are going to be certain things that you need to have in place so that trust is present. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down for you, and we’re going to give you all the insights. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

    There’s great value in building trust before you even send the pitch deck. It’s like when you’re at a party, for example, or at a conference, if you meet someone that you don’t know, that is the first conversation, you’re going to be guarded in the conversation, but if that person is the brother or the sister of someone that you already know, ultimately, there is a message or a signal that is shot to your brain that allows you to be comfortable in the conversation.

    Now, remember that investors, for a living, are meeting with entrepreneurs. So more cold emails may lead to more meetings, but more meetings from cold emails may not lead to more investments. That’s why you always want to get very good introductions, warm introductions via ideally, as I always say, portfolio founders of some of those investors, which are people that have received an investment from that investor in the last 6 to 12 months and that ideally are working at a board level together. 

    Those are the best ones to essentially make that introduction so that you can start to build the rapport and to build the trust. Always, as the saying goes: If you go for money, you’re going to get advice. But if you go for advice, you’re going to get money twice. So, always go for the advice. Don’t go for the money. The conversation will smoothly transition into the money once trust is present, and the investors will be the ones that prompt that type of discussion.

    So, just like anything else, let them be comfortable. Let them trust you. Let them see that you’re delivering on your promises, and you’ll get there. Remember, nobody gets a check on the first day when they need an investor. So, forget about that. Your goal should be to get to the next meeting because the more meetings, the more concerns you’re able to address, and the more concerns that you address, the closer that you get to the money. Obviously, those meetings and having that trust will allow you to understand when the right time is to have that pitch ready to go and to make it happen.

    You want to connect regularly with that investor. You want to go to events. You want to comment on their blog, on their posts. You want to also comment on Tweets, their Facebook posts, or LinkedIn posts. And be top-of-mind because that is going to build that relationship. They’re going to have you top-of-mind, and, at the end of the day, that is going to help to build the trust.

    The other thing that you want is, especially if you’re very active fundraising, you want to schedule follow-up notes and follow-up emails where every couple of weeks, you are connecting. And remember that investors are very much ego-driven, so you need to feed that beast. 

    The way that you do that is by getting back to them and saying, “Hey, remember that advice that you gave me? It was super powerful. We implemented it, and we got these results. Thank you so much for that.” And then you take the chance to push it to the next meeting. You finish it up with, “Are you available next week or the following for a quick catch-up call.” Remember that every interaction with an investor needs to finish with a call to action. Again, you want to get to that next meeting.

    You want to start early. Super-successful entrepreneurs know that this is all about relationships. So even before you need the money, let’s say that you’re thinking that you need to raise money in 18 to 24 months, and you may need those relationships. Start right away because if you wait, by the time that you actually need the money, it’s going to be too late, and you’re going to find yourself in a really awful situation. 

    So always try to anticipate, try to look toward the future, and reverse-engineer to where you are today so that you understand what the most immediate steps are that you need to actually take so that you get to where you want to be. Again, start building those relationships early. Identify which investors will be the ideal ones to finance your next round. And make sure that you have a good, warm introduction to get in to them so that you start building those relationships early.

    Be sure that your online presence is clean and also transparent. What I mean with this is that if they are Googling you, and they don’t find anything, or they find certain pictures or something that could be embarrassing, that will be a red flag, and they will not continue with any type of discussion.

    Always remember that an investor is going to come from the lens or from the point of view of, “Why should I not invest in this company?” So you do not want to give them reasons. You want to remove friction. You don’t want to add more friction into the actual process. With that being said, you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and Twitter look professional and also your Crunchbase and any angel list profiles, which is typically where those investors live online, are also clean and up to date.

    Another way to build trust is via the press and media. Try to put together a campaign where you’re building the relationship with the reporters that are covering your space, perhaps your competitors, and try to see if you can get a feature. Because by getting a feature, not only the investors that are covering the space may find you, but then also once you have those press mentions, you can grab those and use them as a very nice way to follow-up with investors that you would really love to get involved. And, again, this is going to help them to understand, “If that media is covering them, that means that they are trustworthy.” Ultimately, it’s just a psychology type of thing, but you want to push that as much as you can.

    Raise Money. If you want to have instant trust, they want to see that other people are also investing in your business because investors are always like sheep. They go where all the other ones are going. So if you have one investor or a couple of investors that are coming in and investing in your business, you can use that as a way of leverage to follow-up with them and to say, “We just got this/that investment from this/that individual” and that is going to create that fear of missing out where they may be like, “Wait a second. They’re starting to raise the money. I may lose my ticket. I need to jump right now.” That is essentially what drives checks: momentum and fear of missing out. So by having others investing in your business, it’s going to be a great signal that you can push out there to all these people that you’re speaking with so that you can create the momentum and push them over the edge to also invest in your business.

    Ask, as well, how you can add value for them. Are there people you can introduce them to? Are there certain things that they want access to, like there’s a meeting where you know someone, or maybe they want to start giving guest lectures at the university where you attended, or people that they want to have access to that you may know?

    Here is your chance to add value to them and to have them appreciate you for what you’re already contributing to the table. So, again, try to see ways in which you can help them out because that’s going to help you, in the long run, to get an investment from them.

    You want to also show that you do what you say because remember that for investors, it’s all about connecting the dots. You’re going to meet them on Day 1 here, and then you’ll make some promises, and over the course of time, there are going to be certain things that they’re going to see on your execution, on you being able to deliver on your promise. So something that you want to do is to create a nice investor newsletter that you’re sending on a monthly or a quarterly basis where you talk about all the great progress and all the great things that you’ve achieved so that they can see that ultimately you’re doing a great job of executing and that you are delivering on the promise that you made to them.

    Finally, when you send them the pitch deck, make sure that you are nailing it, literally. It needs to be 15 to 25 slides maximum. Also, follow the right type of flow and the right type of structure because this is all about storytelling. For the most part, they are investing in you. They are investing in the future. They are investing in possibilities, so you want to have them in a way in which they are moved, touched, and inspired when they are having access to your pitch deck. So, don’t miss the boat. 

    You can actually use the pitch deck template below that founders are using all over the world to raise millions so that you don’t have to start from scratch.

    Thank you so much, and if you like this video, click a Like and then send a comment and let me know what you’re up to. Then, Subscribe to the video so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. And if you’re raising money, send me an email to alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com. I would love to help out. Thank you so much for watching.

     

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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