The elevator pitch, those few sentences which convey your company across to potential customers and investors. Do you have it right? Can you explain what your product does in language that is simple, yet presents the unique value of your product? You may think that you already have your elevator pitch perfected, but even if it is, test it, refine it, and make it better. The pitch will dictate whether you get some love in an elevator, or just get shot down. We’re here to help. Follow this guide to master the elevator pitch and get funded.
There’s something to be said about not listening to your teachers, and there’s something about entrepreneurs that makes them not fit the average mold. So if you happen to find yourself at the next seed _enter_name_of_competition_here_ remember one word.
Sure it may be the next “synergy” but even ten years after synergy went out of style it still means something. Disruption is now that which is in. But what’s it mean?
It’s not interrupting the class but it’s a plane that your project, you and your presentation should exist in. Esoteric description aside, it should challenge something of the status quo and provide a solution to that status quo, it should challenge everyday conventions, not augment them or add to them. This is disruption.
That is your project – now how about you? First and foremost, don’t get boggled down by others – think of yourself and try and make yourself stand out. Be it engaging questions, or coming in on the left flank when everyone else is preparing on the right, it’s putting yourself in the mentor / judge / audience’s eye – by intelligently – you got it – challenging convention.
Finally, presentation – the majority of presentations will typically focus – intro – contents – body, and have text and a few images. While this can convey your message, having too much text on your slides especially if you’re presenting your concept can work heavily against you. Why you ask?
Think back to the last time you sat through a presentation – was there text on the slides, did you listen to your speaker or did you read the sides. If you listened good for you – most people will read. Try a mix, or better yet, have no text at all. Steve Jobs, you know that Apple guy, does not use text in his presentations. Why?
Because they take away from his – on stage – presence for lack of a better word, simply put he stands out. Text is boring, conversation is interesting, and more importantly engaging. And when we say engaging – your audience needs to be involved. This doesn’t necessarily mean a Q&A – typically in the 5 minutes you have there’s no time, but that’s not to say that something can’t stir inside them.
Emotion is a powerful tool. Understand it, and use it. And remember, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt.
When it’s time to approach business angels there’s a few things to consider and a few other things to keep in mind, and a few even other things that for the most part are common sense yet entrepreneurs tend to forget about all the time.
But before you’re ready to look for someone that will assist you not only in the next round of financing for your company, but also extend a hand in helping to get the company off the ground, you should consider a few things.
For those who read this regularly, we may be repeating ourselves, but bear with us until we get to the meaty stuff.
Am I a functioning company, and do I have a product or service that I can offer for sale, or am I already selling? If the answer is yes, you can consider starting to contact business angels. If you are prior to this stage in your business development, then we highly recommend you save yourself and the business angels the time and not send anything out.
Now, since you’re ready to seek funding, you’re selling a product, and need a financial boost, here’s some very good, yet very simple best practices on….
Raising Angel Capital….
One: This may seem obvious, but apparently it’s not. Do not send your proposals to angels / angel networks that are not in your industry. If you’re a high tech company, a business angel network that deals with energy is not a good idea to send your summary to. Please stick to soliciting people to the industry that you’re in.
Two: Don’t bother sending proposals to “managed” angel funds. These fund managers are often that, just managers, they invest in companies but offer no outside help, and neither do the business angels. These types of funds tend to result in the following. 1. Companies going bust 2. Funds going bust due to poor investment decisions. 3. Angry investors.
Three: Two goes into three nicely, you want an Angel that can lend a helping hand, an industry expert on who you can count on and someone who will want to actively help in getting the company to the next level. That someone should mesh well with the current management, and aside from playing financier, should also want to mentor. This is VERY important.
Four: When sending out your proposal, executive summary, business plan – wait … actually don’t do the third one, never ever do the third one. “But why F3FundIt?” Because no one who is busy wants to read through 25-40 pages of your analysis, and I mean no one.
Send out proposals/exec summaries that are 2 pages maximum. Any more and it will probably wind up in the bin. It’s not that your sweat isn’t worth anything, your b-plan is in fact a guideline for you and your company, not for your investors. They’ll know if they like your concept in the first 3 minutes, and if something catches their eye, they’ll get in touch with you. At the same time, when you contact them, they can’t honestly say “No I haven’t had a chance to read your two page summary”, can they now?
Five: Something that we constantly hear form Angels are complaints about how poorly the company presents itself, how, after 15 minutes of speaking on the phone with an entrepreneur the Business Angels are lost as to what the hell the entrepreneur is doing. Know business terms, get accustomed to knowing your value proposition and pitching your company – practice in front of the mirror if public speaking isn’t your thing. Be clear, and be concise. Your startup will thank you for it, after all your selling it, and yourself.
Live by it, learn it, and do it. Chances are if you follow these tips and you have a good idea – you’ll wind up getting meetings, or at least phone calls.
And if any BA’s are out there, any other pet peeves you’d like to tell us about?