Investors. You need them. We promise.
They come in many forms, traditional and not so traditional. In this day and age, raising funds for your startup is definitely easier than it used to be (anyone heard of Kickstarter?), but it is still a challenging part to starting a company.
First off, you'll need a great pitch - don't be discouraged. There is a tried and true approach that we definitely approve of. We've been in the marketing game for 20+ years, and know a thing or two about how to launch a company.
Before we begin, here are six pointers you should keep in mind.
- Don't give them too much information. You only want to gain their interest. Here, the old adage rings true. Why should they buy your cow if you're giving away the milk for free? Leave them wanting more.
- Don't crowd your pitch deck with over-the-top graphics and copy. Keep it simple and easy to digest.
- Your deck should be able to stand on it's own, with or without a formal presentation. You may only be able to get in front of an investor via e-mail. Make sure your deck is self-explanatory.
- Keep it short. The best decks vary between 10 and 15 pages.
- Don't falsify information just to seem like you've got all the facts.
- If you want to give examples of your competitive set, don't bad-mouth them, simply show why you're different or better.
Ready to create your pitch deck? We've put together a step-by-step approach to get you started.
- Elevator Pitch: What's your tagline in a sense? You'll need a quick one-liner that explains your product and your mission.
- Key Numbers: Show your timeline from inception to present: your growth metrics, press, accolades, and partnerships. This is a good place to share testimonials or product reviews.
- The Market: What market are you a part of? What's the market size - large or small? How much potential money is to be made? Where does your company fit in and where does it disrupt? Who are your customers? Include your research of macro trends and any additional insight.
- Challenge & Current Solutions: Define the problem in the market which your company or product is answering. Here, you'll highlight on your competitive set, but save the good and bad for #10.
- Your Solution: Prove your value and how you're different (and better). Define your solution for your customer.
- Business Model: Define your revenue model and how you'll make money. What does the pricing look like? Are there tiers of revenue? Remark on how many customers you have to date. Are there lifetime revenue streams? Or, is it a one-time purchase?
- Strategy: Where are your potential customers going for solutions? How will you grab their attention? How will you achieve your growth projections? How will you reach your potential customers in a new and exciting way? How is your approach different?
- Team Roles: Highlight team members from leadership down. Note prior positions of importance, relevance, and expertise. How do their roles support your success?
- Financials: Shoot for 3 to 5 years of financial projections. Make note of assumptions for expenses, customer conversion and retention, and your potential market penetration. For each year, you'll need to highlight total customers, total revenue, total expenses, and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization).
- Competition: How does your company exist in your market? What advantages are you bringing to the table? How are you unique? Comment on your competitive set further: what do they provide in the marketplace (good and bad)?
- The Investment "Ask:" Be transparent. How much money do you have and need to raise? What's the timeline? Do you have any investors already? Who are they? How will the proceeds be used? Mention founder salaries, new hires, overhead for space and/or equipment, marketing (very important), technology and product development, capital expenses and equipment.
- Thank you: Be sure to add a closing slide thanking everyone for their time.
This is everything you need to create an intriguing investor pitch that you can share with investors directly, online, or present in person. Good luck!