Depth and style: Making your startup attractive to investors

You’ve heard of the startups that are able to raise millions from investors – but it takes more than a slick PowerPoint presentation to secure funding.

Investors will scrutinise everything about a startup, from its value proposition, to its competitors, founders, sales funnel, current and projected performance. The key is to communicate depth, in a simple and easy-to-understand style.

Here you’ll find a checklist of sorts which aims to achieve these two points – depth and style – before pitching any startup to a boardroom of investors.

What and why

Without a clear, succinct articulation of a startup’s core product, the rest of any conversation with an investor falls on deaf ears. But it’s not just what a startup does which investors buy, it’s why they do it that matters arguably more – the mission a startup is strives for, wrapped into which is a problem the startup was conceived to solve. This paints a compelling picture of purpose and future growth potential to any potential investors.

Who’s who?

Who is important in a number of aspects – firstly in who a startup is addressing. It’s important to indicate early on your total addressable target market, current and projected, backed up with strong, inscrutable figures.

Secondly, a picture must be painted of the competitive landscape – where key competitors fit in, and where a startup has positioned its product in this landscape.

Thirdly, the people side – a startup’s founders must introduce themselves, their relevant experience and qualifications, as well as basic information about the team and any advisers they are receiving guidance from.

Point of difference

With introductions out of the way, establishing a compelling point of difference and demonstrating a market fit or definition is key.

Walking investors through the broad-strokes user experience, from the point of view of all types of user, and pointing out at which points throughout that journey a startup’s product is unique or stands out will suitably achieve this.

Signs of success

Sharing compelling signs of current and future success can makes or break a conversation with investors for any startup. It’s highly recommended that the startup’s product is in some form released, whether that be fully or as a beta test. From this release, adoption rates can be mapped and projected forward, along with any positive press received. Having these statistics independently audited or verified bolsters a startup’s case.

Alongside a startup’s customer acquisition strategy, and development cycle, a path to revenue and monetisation strategy will help determine any valuation given.

Ensuring chemistry

With a pitch that covers these fundamentals, along with a demonstrable product (or Minimally Viable Product) that has beta launched, and can be backed up by another company, a startup’s proposition will be attractive to investors.

The final tip is to ensure this is all communicated as simply as possible, ideally with as few slides as possible. Forget 50 slides – time is money, and in this context, less time means more money.

It’s advice best taken to startups to boil any pitch presentation down to the minimal amount of slides required to give a compelling impression of depth, while not seeming too complicated or convoluted. For this, founders will need to talk off and answer any questions off-slide with confidence and accuracy.

This is perhaps the overarching piece of advice to founders seeking eligible investors –confidence is not struck in waffling, but rather in a sense of in-depth knowledge, balanced by a style which is relaxed and easy-to-understand.