opinion expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are yours.
Presenting your startup to a venture capitalist (VC) investor can be intimidating. You are talking to exceptionally smart, successful individuals in a competitive market. According to statista, 2021 set a new record for venture capital investment in the US at nearly $330 billion – nearly double what it was a year ago. You are competing against a multitude of clever founders and amazing ideas. How can you best prepare for success?
Consider the VC’s point of view. With such a wide range of investment opportunities and pitches, VCs usually have certain criteria they look for to help them evaluate the opportunity. Think about what you want to know as a potential investor and build your pitch from there.
Even startups with brilliant ideas can turn the pitch bad before they even begin. Think about the following questions when preparing your next pitch.
RELATED: How to Sell Your Story Through Your Pitch Deck?
What problems does your startup solve for consumers?
Investors want to invest in innovative products or services with competitive, long-term potential. share successful pitches solving real world problems which have not yet been resolved by other companies in the market.
Consider who needs to have or use your product. Are you doing something that consumers can’t do without? What makes your product different and better than others? Are you providing a compelling reason for people to change their current habits? If consumers are currently using a different product or service why would they switch to your idea instead? Think seriously about the answers to these questions and include them clearly in your pitch. Answer investors’ tough questions before they ask.
Why is now the best time?
Investors will probably want to know why now is the best time to invest in you, both from a market perspective and at the current stage of your startup.
Investors will need to see that your target market is currently large enough to generate a large return and be sure that you will be able to capture a large portion of that market. Why would your idea work now and why didn’t it work before? In order to capture the attention of venture capitalists it is important to demonstrate that your business will target an existing market opportunity.
With regard to timing within your organization, VCs will need to know what growth and revenue milestones you will hit and when you will hit them. They will also want to see proof that the business is a viable one with traction in your core market.
Be prepared to provide this information to investors in a detailed and realistic time frame.
RELATED: How a VC Wants to Pitch
What makes you the best leader for your opinion?
Your story just needs to feature prominently in any successful pitch. At this stage, VCs are mostly investing in the people behind the idea. A strong, determined leader with a clear vision for his idea is essential.
Include evidence of your prior success in your pitch. In addition to a proven track record, VCs want to see confidence in your pitch. Prepare your pitch to showcase your best features, including your drive, passion and presence.
Transparency is important throughout the pitch process, but especially now. It’s okay to be sensitive. No entrepreneur is strong in every field – it’s better to be honest about your weaknesses and your plan to hire strategically to help fill those gaps.
Also, demonstrate your coachability in your pitch. Be open to hearing VCs advise you and your company – they succeed for a reason.
RELATED: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch an Investor
Do you have the team to execute your vision?
In addition to you as a leader, VCs need to see the executive team as a whole. Be prepared to share that you not only have a unique idea, but that you have the right team behind you to make it happen.
Be prepared to talk about your team’s expertise and share a list of qualified, competent people who will play a key role in the company’s growth. Be prepared to share a thorough recruitment plan if you don’t have this team yet. In addition, VCs want to see that your team is committed to meeting the challenges ahead with a shared vision for success.
It’s also important to address the balance of your team. Do you have a Marketing Specialist? Product Guru? sales leader? Address any existing imbalances in team expertise and come up with a plan to fill those gaps. Demonstrate that you are a smart, strategic founder in the way you build your core team. Remember that VCs are not only investing in your business – they are investing in people as well.
In the end, perhaps the best way to prepare for a pitch meeting is to step into your potential investor’s shoes. Think about what you want to know before investing in a company and answer those questions clearly in your pitch.