Do's and don'ts of pitching investors at conferences

If you think you have the next big entrepreneurship idea that is going to the take the world by storm, but don’t have access to networking, then startup conferences can be your go-to choice to secure the funding you need to move your dream business forward.

Startup pitches presented in conferences are different in nature compared to face-to-face pitches, for a number of good reasons. First of all, in these conferences the investor(s) will not solely focus on you or your idea only. There will be other enthusiastic entrepreneurs like you pitching their ideas. It is highly unlikely that every single business idea that gets pitched in conferences end up getting desired investment. The investors come to conferences with a limited budget, and the ideas that seem profitable and scalable can draw their attention only.

The challenges are basically threefold: tough competition, short amount of allotted time and overcoming your own nervousness. At times, it is seen that even great business ideas end up not getting enough funding, or any funding at all, just because the pitch was not up to the mark. In this article, we are going to tell you the secrets that can make or break a pitch.

The do’s

Specifically for conference pitches, don’t ever forget these three rules. Industry specialists and investors look for these when they are pitched with any idea. Basically we are going to put ourselves in the shoes of the investors, and determine how a good pitch should look like.

- Numbers, numbers and numbers: If you don’t have the numbers to show, you actually don’t have anything to show. Within the allotted few minutes, you have to impress the investors with your idea. As a matter of fact, investors get impressed mostly by the potential of the business to bring the money back in their pockets at the end of the day. Numbers give them a better idea if the business is going to become profitable for them eventually.

Tell them the amount of money you’ve already poured into your business and for what purpose; mention the amount of revenue you are currently generating, refer to the production cost and selling price per unit if your idea is dependent on a utility product, and most importantly, give the investors a forecast on how the numbers would look like in upcoming years if you get the funding you are looking for.

- Introduce a post investment strategy: If you are looking for funding, you need to know why the funding is necessary in the first place. If you can’t convince the investors that their money will be in good hands if they decide to invest, you will not even be getting a single penny out of them.

Many entrepreneurs think that their idea is awesome and the idea alone will bring money in, and they can decide how to spend it later. The proper way is to have a solid plan and course of action in case investment is received. The invested amount can be used for marketing, research and development, building inventory or developing more products. Whatever the reason is, don’t forget to tell them. This can impress the investors for two reasons. First, they understand that you are not roaming in the dark with your business. And second, they like your confidence as you have already made plans to do wonders with the potential funding.

- Present a timeline: Investors want to know when they will be able to see the fruits of their money. If your business idea is solid and you have already identified your target market, then you should be able to offer them a timeline regarding achieving business goals, plan implementation and increasing profit margin. The timeline helps the investors to understand that you know what you are doing, and you really believe in it.

So, numbers, plan and timeline, don’t forget these three while pitching your idea. Yes, it is important to turn the pitch into a story and tell the story convincingly. But tales will not bring money. Show the investors what will bring money, and how.

The pitching no-no’s

- Using wrong information: This is the deadliest thing you can do while pitching your business. Picture this, you are in a room pitching your idea to people who have been successfully established in the market. They might know the market better than you do. Presenting wrong information to them is like writing the death sentence of your chance to receive any funding. They’ll know it immediately, and instantly decide against funding you. Be honest with whatever information you provide them with; be it a market analysis or the numbers about your business.

- Being too demanding: Investors would definitely want to negotiate with you if they are willing to invest in your business. Probably they might ask for more equity that doesn’t go according to your demands. It is completely fine for you to present counter-offers, and the investors don’t mind this at all. But thing they won’t like is you going overboard with your demands.

Just think about it, would you ask for a million dollars for 5% equity of a company that is making $50,000 a year without any major growth potential? Someone might think that could come down to a reasonable deal after starting the negotiation with an outrageous demand. But this is not the case. Rather it’ll be a massive turn-off, and you’ll receive nothing.

- Being too emotionally attached to your idea: Having emotional attachment with your idea is fine, but there is a bar. The investors think long term, and too much emotional attachment is not good in the long term. When people are emotionally driven, they lack focus and fail to take tough decisions under pressure. Investors do take this under consideration when they meet an entrepreneur.

If you can avoid these mistakes, your chance of getting investments goes higher by quite some margin. Stay ahead of the game, and nail the conference pitch!

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