What are the steps to take to pitch an idea to an investor?

Startups take money to launch and grow. Investors can be a great source of external capital to get off the ground and scale things. Yet, the media often over simplifies getting funded. There are more steps than you’d imagine from simply reading the latest headlines. 

Here’s what you really need to do before asking investors for money…

Market Research & Business Planning

Even for your own sake you need to complete thorough market research and formulate a business plan.

This will be an essential asset and guide, even if you never raise a penny in outside funding. If you plan to raise capital, then this will be critical for displaying pertinent data points and metrics, ensuring you’ve structured your company to be in a position to get funded, and on the best terms, and to show your prospective investors what’s possible. 

This process will also help you identify how much money you need to raise, what it is best used for and when you’ll need to raise again. 

Create Your Pitch Deck & Supporting Materials

Equipped with all of the above information you can now create an effective pitch deck which is really tailored to your short list of optimal investors. 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. You can utilize a proven pitch deck template and customize it for your startup business.

In this regard, 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.

You will probably need other supporting materials as well, including:

If you are running a fundraising campaign you may also need a good amount of marketing materials and collateral. 

This may include:

  • Emails
  • Explainer or intro videos
  • Profile pages
  • Press releases

On top of this you’ll need to prepare several verbal pitches of different lengths. This will range from your elevator pitch to full presentation. 

Put Your Team Together

If you are starting a business that warrants getting funded you will need a team. In fact, a big factor in getting funded will be the strength of your team. This is a critical part of the steps to take to pitch an idea to an investor.

Your founding team is probably the number one deciding factor when investors debate writing you a check. It’s not your business idea, size of the market or how ingenious your tech idea is. It is all about if you have the best team. A team that will roll with the punches and execute through all of the challenges that are coming.

This is the time to build out your founding team, install great executives and department heads, and to enroll respected advisors.

Start Working On The Basics

The most fundable startups are the ones which are proving they can execute and achieve what they talk about. The more progress and results you can show, the easier it should be to convert investors. That gives you a much better ROI on the time and money you throw into fundraising campaigns. 

If you really do well in this area you may even begin attracting inbound interest from investors. That can make a huge difference given some CEOs spend 50% of their time trying to raise money.

In addition to building out your fundraising team this includes choosing the right corporate and tax structure, building the prototype and MVP, testing the marketing, and securing those first sales. 

Research Your Investors & Fundraising Platforms

Know your options. There is more than one way to raise money for your startup business and something to keep in mind as part of the steps to take to pitch an idea to an investor. 

You can enter pitch competitions, apply for business grants, borrow using loans, leverage crowdfunding platforms, and create your own outbound fundraising process. You may even ultimately use several of these channels and strategies.

Start figuring out and short listing those which are the best matches for your unique startup right now. 

Even when you are focused you can face a lot of rejection. The shorter and more efficient you can make the fundraising journey the more profitable it will be, and the more time, energy and resources you’ll have to actually make progress on making the business work. Not to mention how much more enjoyable it will all be. So, make a narrower list to target.

Some of the key factors to look at when it comes to evaluating investors include:

  • Stage of business they are seeking to fund
  • Amount of funding they like to provide at this round
  • Additional help and resources they can provide beyond the money
  • The typical terms they are likely to offer and demand
  • If you are the type of industry and business model they want to fund
  • If you are aligned in values and theory for growing a business
  • If your timelines for an exit match
  • The doors this funding partner could open or close for the next round of funding

Don’t just look at venture capital firms, angel groups, or lender and startup accelerator brand names. It is important to look at the individuals you will be dealing with. Who are the individual partners, board members and decision makers you’ll be interacting with on a daily basis? How good of a match are they?

Start Making Investor Connections

Whether by cold email, in person networking, social media or introductions it is time to connect with investors and begin to build the relationship.

Cold and hard pitches can work. Though the longer you have to build relationships and nurture them and warmly present the more likely you are to get funded. 

Hopefully this piece gave you some perspective on the steps to take to pitch an idea to an investor.

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.

You may find interesting the video below where I cover in detail the steps to pitch an idea to an investor.

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FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE VIDEO:

Hello, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about the steps to take to pitch an idea to an investor. So what are the steps that you take when you want to pitch your idea to an investor? Obviously, the media paints it as something being super simple. There is this company raising whatever millions, this other one, also millions, but it’s not that easy, and there is a certain methodology and process that you need to follow in order to make it happen. In today’s video, we’re going to give you all the insights, and we’re going to be breaking it down directly for you. So, let’s get into it.

Market research & business planning. This is exactly where you want to start. You want to research, who are your competitors? How much have they raised? What were the potential valuations? This is stuff that you can find on Google, and there are some reports out there that you can use. Then, you can put together a business plan.

Now, business plans, they’re using them in a different form. Before, they were used to raise money, but now business plans are becoming more and more as a tool that you use internally to really understand and guide you through the next 18-24 months of execution and something that perhaps investors will want to look at. But this, essentially, is going to allow you to be prepared and to know the answers to the questions that are going to be coming your way when you meet with those investors.

Then, you want to create your pitch deck and supporting materials. The pitch deck is just like, for example, the template of the pitch deck below that founders are using all over the world to raise millions, which you can use today for free, so take a look at it. But, essentially, it is 15-25 slides where you convince and compress your story in a way in which it gets people excited.

Now, remember that typically, investors only allocate 2 minutes and 41 seconds to review a pitch deck, so you really need to understand how your balancing the visual with the text, how you have a nice flow and a nice structure on the story over the course of the slide to slide, And that’s essentially what you want to do on the pitch deck. You want to capture how exciting the future is looking ahead, how big the market, how great of a compounding annual growth rate your market has so that people are getting super excited.

There are other supporting documents that you want to have in place for this, and those are the following documents to keep in mind as the steps to pitch an idea to an investor:

  • One-page business plan
  • Action plan
  • Executive summary
  • Investor updates
  • Emails
  • Explainer or intro videos
  • Profile pages
  • Press releases

On top of this, you also want to create the elevator pitch or that narrative where perhaps you are in-person so that you don’t sound robotic. It sounds as it is coming from the heart; it’s authentic. Authenticity, when you’re raising money, is critical. So, never sound like a robot.

Putting a good team together is essential. They’re always going to want to make sure that you have the right people. For this, you want to understand that the people you’re bringing in is not because they were your best friends in college or because you enjoy having a beer with them, but it’s because they are people you respect, and they bring a certain expertise that you do not have or that anyone else in your team has. 

So you want to have people that can showcase that you have that collection of individuals. They’re coming together. They’re going to help the business to adapt to whatever the market is requiring from them. Again, A+ people. This is exactly what is going to help get that investor excited in understanding, “I want to invest in these guys,” or not. Remember: venture investors always invest in people. Obviously, as you grow and as you mature as a company, you’re going to encounter other investors like private equity firms. 

But the earlier that you are in the process, you’re going to have your friends and family. You’re going to have angels. You’re going to have angel groups and also venture capitals. But all of those, at an early stage, are ultimately betting on you. For that reason, you want to make them understand that everything that you’ve done in the past and all those skillsets that you and your ream have are really going to help on delivering on your promise and on having a masterful execution.

Start working, as well, on the basics. Obviously, in addition to having your team, you want to have the little details as well. You want to have your minimal viable product, which is either like the smallest thing that you can of your product or service to showcase that and to show that it’s tangible, and what it’s going to look like, or what it may look like.

You also want to have the right type of structure from an entity perspective that maybe your corporate lawyer helps you to structure. You also want to have your taxes in place, your accountant in place, because that is ultimately going to show the investors that you’ve done your homework. And that you’re serious.

You also need to research your investors and whatever platforms that you want to use as part of the steps to pitch an idea to an investor. Maybe online to launch yourself and get money because here’s the thing: time is of the essence. You want to allocate your time with investors that are going to be interested or that have an investment thesis where your opportunity is a clear fit. You don’t want to go after investors where there won’t be a fit because you’re wasting their time; you’re wasting your time, and time is everything that you have. So, always go for investors where they perhaps have invested in companies that were similar to yours or that you know they’ve written about their investment thesis, they talked about how excited they were about opportunities like yours. Also, you want to keep into consideration the following factors when determining whether or not they could be a fit.

  • Stage of the business they’re seeking to fund
  • Amount of funding they like to provide at this round
  • Additional help and resources they can provide beyond the money
  • Typical terms they’re likely to offer on-demand
  • If you’re the type of industry and business model they want to fund
  • If you’re aligned in values and theory for growing a business
  • If your timelines for an exit match
  • The doors this funding partner could open or close for the next round of funding

Also, don’t just look at the firm. Maybe if it’s an institutional investor, a venture capital firm, or an angel group, try to see: who is that individual? What kind of quality as human beings do they have? Ask them to introduce you to a founder of a portfolio company that failed. How did they behave with that founder when things were on the other side of the mountain? Were they able to roll up their sleeves and jump in and do whatever they could to turn it around? Did they treat that entrepreneur as a write-off that they knew it was going to fail, and they did not want to allocate more time with him or her? Those are the things that you want to know because it’s going farther beyond the logo. It’s not about the logo. It’s not about the company. It’s about who is going to be helping you? Who is going to be sitting on your board? You want to have people that are not only great investors and that can identify good opportunities, but also people that have that great quality of being great human beings.

Start making investor connections. Literally, I’ve got to tell you that the best way to introduce yourself or get that connection to investors is by entrepreneurs that have received an investment from that investor that you’re looking to target in the last 6 to 12 months. Those are the best ones because they are already in that circle of trust. You need that push in the steps to pitch an idea to an investor, that social proof, that background relatedness that that entrepreneur that is already in that circle of trust of the investor that you want to target so that they can push you and get you there. 

Essentially, I always hear from other founders, “Oh, my gosh. Getting in front of people is so hard.” It’s not hard. We live, right now, in a world that is super connected and super transparent. There aren’t a lot of degrees of separation from one another, so there are no excuses for you to get an entrepreneur that is at a Series A or at a Series B that has already raised some money, that has maybe between 15 or 30 investors at that point that you connect with them, and that you build a meaningful relationship so that they introduce you to their own investors.

I would love to hear on the comment section how you’re going about it. Also, don’t forget to Like the video and to subscribe to the channel so that you don’t miss out on all the videos that we’re rolling out every week. And take a look at the fundraising training, which is the fundraising program where we help from A to Z with everything related to fundraising. There, you’ll find live Q&As, templates, agreements, a community of entrepreneurs helping each other all over the world, and you’ll find tremendous value in it. So, thank you so much for watching.

 

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