How to prepare a pitch for investors? How do you make sure you are best prepared to successfully pitch investors and bring in the capital your startup needs?
Fundraising is an essential part of launching and managing a startup business. It is an art and science that frequently makes all the difference when it comes to which startups survive and dominate, and make the headlines versus those that don’t.
Some say it is about getting lucky. Yet, getting lucky is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So, how do you prepare well?
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Steps In The Pitching & Fundraising Process
There is a lot to startup fundraising. Your pitch is a big, and pivotal part of that. Whether this is your first round, or you just need to level up your game for your next round, these are the steps in the process that you need to know.
Define Your Wants, Needs & Goals
An intelligent fundraising campaign begins with gaining clarity on your wants, needs, and goals from this round.
Know what is really most important, and the desired outcome. This will keep you on the right track, focused, and guide your decisions along the way.
Money is certainly a part of this. Though for many startups, fundraising is equally about bringing in the right strategic partners to help them take their business to the next level.
Determine what is necessary, what is nice to have as a bonus, and what you cannot accept in advance.
This will also help in strategically positioning your pitch, and in negotiations.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
Identify & Hire The Help You Need
This list may expand as you move through this list and lay out all of the pitching materials you need for your campaign. Yet, the earlier you identify the items and roles you need to fill, the better prepared you will be.
The best talent will be booked up far in advance. It will also take you longer than you expect to get pitching materials finished, tweaked, and polished. As well as to get comfortable pitching with them.
You do not want to try to hash this out with second-rate help two weeks before an important investor meeting.
Recruit and at least get great talent on standby for your needs. Get them working as early as possible to achieve the best possible pitching materials.
This includes graphic designers, copywriters, and fundraising consultants.
Would you like more detailed information about how to create a pitch deck? Check out this video where I have explained with demos on how to execute this critical step of your fundraising process.
Decide How You Will Pitch
Now that you have an idea of your needs and wants, and what you hope to get out of this fundraising campaign, you should be honing in on your process.
There are a variety of ways to run a campaign. You can focus on drawing and attracting inbound investment interest. You can hit the web for a crowdfunding campaign. Or get out there cold pitching and showing up at live pitching events.
Whichever path you choose, you will need to do much of the same preparation and create many of the same materials. Though there may be slight differences or additional items you may need, such as cold email pitch messages, or video pitches and press releases.
Decide Who You Will Pitch
Who are your ideal investors? Identifying the right audience will help you work out how to prepare a pitch for investors.
In a perfect world, who would you land as your investors in this round? You need a long enough shortlist to ensure you get the funding you need. Though as targeted a list as possible to get the right investors, run an efficient process, and bring in the maximum amount of value for the equity you will be giving up.
Most important is first landing that all-important lead investor. Though you may want to work your list in reverse order to perfect your pitch prior to getting to your must-have investors. This list may be hundreds or thousands long.
The types of investors you may consider approaching will vary depending on your stage and the type of startup you are operating.
This may include:
- Individual accredited investors
- Angel investors
- Angel groups
- Startup accelerators
- Family offices
- Venture capital firms
- Private equity firms
- Strategic corporate investors
- Lenders interested in equity participation
Making Contact & Building Relationships
While you don’t want to start actively pitching for funding without being fully prepared, and having all of your materials polished and lined up, you should already be making connections and building relationships.
This is a process that can be months and years in the making. It is far better to have already built those warm relationships without the pressure and alternative motives, rather than having to cold pitch on the fly when you are desperate for money to survive.
If you are late to the game and think you need to put new money in the bank in the next few months, then you are going to need to find some hacks to shorten this process. Like leveraging fundraising advisors to make those important investor introductions.
Preparing Your Materials
As already mentioned, you can’t afford to wait until the last minute to try and hash together your pitching materials. They will not serve you well, do your company justice, or give you the best chances of fundraising success.
Get to preparing your fundraising materials. Expect this to take at least a couple of weeks for your first draft. Then another two to four weeks for revisions. After this, you will need to practice with these materials, get additional feedback, and make final iterations.
Preparing Your Verbal Pitch
Next, you will be preparing your verbal pitch to accompany your materials. This may be delivered in conjunction with your pitch deck slide show, or not. It may be live in front of a crowd, in an investor meeting with one or a handful of people, via video call, or even on TV. Knowing the delivery mode is the right first step in figuring out how to prepare a pitch for investors.
The next step is to get more feedback and advice on your final pitching materials and verbal pitch for investors.
This may be from investors you personally know, a professional fundraising consultant, other founders who have been through this process, and others.
Collect this data, and make final tweaks to your materials and pitch before really going live with it.
Sending Out Your Pitch
Once you have polished your pitch it’s time to get it out there.
The more people you can get it in front of, the more awareness you will raise of your company and product. Even if few volunteer to fund you, that’s a lot of extra attention and potential customers you can benefit from.
Common methods of cold pitching include sending cold emails. Though today you may augment this with text messaging, and social media. Most investors seem to be predominately active on Twitter and LinkedIn when it comes to social platforms.
There are also many places to submit your pitch deck online. This runs the gamut from broad publishing platforms like Slideshare, to crowdfunding platforms, startup accelerators, and fund websites, to startup events and TV shows, like Shark Tank.
You can also hit the circuit with your pitch. Look for local, regional, and national pitching competitions and events where you can get on stage and get in front of active investors who are looking for startups to fund. When working out how to prepare a pitch for investors, factor in the channels you’ll use to deliver it.
This is by far the most important step in this phase of the fundraising and pitching process. Yet, one which is probably the most neglected and poorly executed on.
Have a plan and system for this so that you outperform your competition in this area. It can make all the difference in your success. It is often those that follow up most and follow up that one more time than their competitors that get the money.
This can be done by phone, email, social, text, and in person.
It used to be that it took an average of seven follow-ups to get a ‘sale’. With all the noise out there today, it may take a lot more than that.
If you are successful with your outreach and initial pitch attempts, then the next step is typically to be invited to an investor meeting.
Here you may present your full pitch in detail and field questions about your company and the investment.
If it goes well, you may be invited back for further follow-up meetings, or meetings with other partners and investors.
If you are successful in your investor meetings you can hope to receive term sheets. These are essentially offered to fund you.
Hopefully, you will receive several of these from different parties to evaluate and then negotiate.
This is where you will certainly want expert help in interpreting these agreements, their various clauses, and fine print, and what they will mean for you tomorrow, and in the long run.
Surviving Due Diligence
After you sign a term sheet, you then move into the due diligence phase of the process.
This can come in varying levels of burden. It may take a couple of weeks, or over a year. Expect investors to dig through every detail of your company.
They will typically go through all of your financials, legal contracts, employment and vendor agreements, key metrics, and more. They want to verify what you pitched and find any areas of risk.
This may result in renegotiations.
Once you make it through all of the above you can then sign the final agreement, close it up, and get the money in the bank. And, that’s how to prepare a pitch for investors.
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.
Preparing Your Pitch For Investors
When it specifically comes to preparing your pitch for investors, it is smart to start with a list of all the materials you need.
This likely includes:
- Email messages to investors
- Follow up sequences
- Investor updates
- Your pitch deck
- Business plan
- Marketing plan
- Action plan
- Financial forecasts
- Script for your verbal pitch
Organizing Your Virtual Data Room
The information you can effectively get through and present to investors is limited. Everyone is busy, attention is scarce, and you need to keep your messaging simple and clean.
The bulk of your information and pitching and supporting materials are going to be hosted in your virtual data room.
Make sure that you do a diligent job of loading and organizing this space so that investors can quickly and easily find the information they are looking for, and continue to take the action you want.
Perfecting Your Verbal Pitch
You may want to invest in a professional copywriter to craft the script for your verbal pitch. There are great freelancers that you can leverage on an as-needed basis for this. This can be hugely pivotal and valuable for technical founders. All startups can benefit from having someone on the outside who can bring out the best of your story and fill the gaps between what you’ve got to offer, and what investors want.
Then you will want to practice and rehearse your verbal pitch until it is completely natural. To the point, you don’t need flashcards, prompts, slides, or a script to deliver it in an impressive and convincing way.
The Pitch Deck
The pitch deck is often the most important piece of this puzzle. Everything can be won or lost on the strength and effectiveness of your pitch deck. This is why you should know how to prepare a pitch for investors.
The key is to keep it concise, clean, and simple.
You must be disciplined to stick to these best practices, even when you want to spill out everything in length and extensive detail.
Check out proven pitch deck templates that you can plug your own data into to speed up this process.
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