The Process of Pitching Investors

February 9th, 2015   |    By: The Startups Team

Preparing to pitch investors is all about getting your pitch materials in order. Most investor introductions follow a common sequence of events that will require you to provide different versions of your business plan throughout the process.

Investors want to find the right fit. They want to see the right location, market size and traction, among other things.

In many cases, it’s the same information simply repackaged to fit the right method of communication. For example, providing a couple sentences makes sense to explain your business in an email, but won’t cut it in a presentation. Conversely, sending a 50-page business plan attached to your introduction email is surely the wrong approach toward making a good first impression with investors.

Researching Investors
Requirements: Investor Database Research

Your first step is to find out which investors meet your investment criteria. Not every investor is right for every opportunity, so narrowing down your list to just the investors who are most likely to be a fit for your deal is very important. You’re much better off contacting one investor that is a fit for your business than 10 that aren’t interested or relevant to your company.

Email Introductions
Requirements: Elevator Pitch, Email Pitch Template

Once you’ve got your list of investors ready, the next step is to reach out to them with a well-crafted email. Your introduction should include both your elevator pitch and all of the elements of the perfect email pitch template.

The goal of the email introduction isn’t to convince investors to write a check — it’s to get them interested enough to want to learn more about you. You’re hoping they will do a little homework on your company, and if they like what they see, they will ask you for more information on the company.

Investor Researches You
Requirements: Company Web Site

Regardless of whether you do business on the web or not, the best way to get an investor excited about your email pitch is to link them directly to your website.

Chances are you don’t have a fully functional website just yet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least provide some information about you and your company on your site. Even if you’re only publishing a single blog page that outlines your background, what you want to do with the company, or some pictures or articles about your product, having a website is key.

In your intro email you should provide a link to a website that contains exactly the information you want the investor to know. You don’t want them Googling you and finding only your Facebook college pictures where you set the keg stand record.

Investor Requests More Info

Requirements: Executive Summary, Pitch Deck

If the investor likes what they see, they will request a slightly more detailed synopsis of your business. Investors don’t parse through 50-page business plans to evaluate an idea. They look for a very tight, well thought out overview of each key area of the business in as few words as possible.

Depending on the investor’s preference, they are either going to ask for an executive summary or a pitch deck. Both contain the same information, organized in a slightly different manner. They include references to your team, problem, solution, product, market size, competition, marketing strategy, and financing details, among other things.

The executive summary is a 2-3 page document that outlines each of the key areas using about a paragraph for each. The pitch deck is the same content but formatted in bullet points and pretty graphs instead of a text narrative.

In either case you’ll want to make sure you’re responding with that document the moment you’re asked for it as investors lose interest by the minute. Waiting until after you get investor interest to write and review these documents is a really bad idea.

Investor Requests Meeting
Requirements: Pitch Deck

Aside from getting funding, getting the meeting may be the single hardest part of the investor dance. Up until this point, if you’ve done a great job making the right intro, providing a compelling website, and delivering strong summary materials, you’ve got the investor’s interest. Now what you do with it is everything.

This is where the pitch comes in. This is easily the most important moment you’ll have with the investor. The investor will have likely seen your pitch deck prior to the meeting, so they should have a good idea of what you’re about to say, which is incredibly helpful.

A good pitch deck has as little content as possible because it’s there to prompt a discussion, not to show that you can read content from a slide in public! The pitch deck is how you’re going to be remembered, and in most cases, is going to be the make or break document that moves the deal forward or kills it altogether.

Investor Loves your Deal
Requirements: Full Business Plan, Financials, Cap Table

If the investor loves your pitch, they are going to ask for more detailed documents. This is a good thing. It means they are willing to start doing some diligence to see if all of those crazy claims you made in your presentation have merit.

The diligence items may vary, but in general they will consist of a full business plan that details things like your competitive position, your marketing strategy, and your product functionality.

The request will certainly include your financials, which will detail your use of proceeds as well as how you will make money in the future.

Lastly, you will likely be asked for your cap table, which is a summary of who owns what stock in the company. You usually won’t be asked for that unless there is a slightly more complicated ownership structure that might include lots of people.

Summary
Having all of these documents prepared may not guarantee that you’ll get funded, but we can be certain that not having them will prevent you from getting funded.

About the Author

The Startups Team

Startups is the world's largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies find customers, funding, mentors, and world-class education.

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