How to pitch for investment like a pro

Growth and strategy

9 February 2023

You only have to watch a few episodes of Dragon's Den to see that undertaking an investor pitch is one of the hardest parts of launching a business. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to launch without funds, no matter how good your idea is.

Before going into the den to meet your own dragons, take time to prepare. Think of it as going to a job interview – you wouldn't walk in without prior knowledge of the company. And in this case, it's your own company that you need to know inside out. Whether you’re pitching to investors, for grants or as part of a funding competition, there’s no denying that an excellent pitch isa necessity for any startup owner.

Find out the top tips for perfecting your pitch – with some real advice from our 2022 Startup Angel winners, Team Repair.

Expand your network

You have so much going on as a business owner that it’s hard to find the time to research funding opportunities for your business. People in your network may know great investors or opportunities and can flag them to you. The bigger your network is, the better your chances of having something useful passed on to you

Megan Hale, CEO of Team Repair, says this works well for them: “We always find a lot of opportunities for investment and funding competitions but that’s because we’ve expanded our network so much. So, we’ve got to a point now where people are sending us competitions or funding opportunities and suggesting we apply. So, expanding your network is great advice for anyone.”

Choose your opportunities wisely

Pursuing an investor who has never worked with businesses at your level or shown interest in your type of product is probably a waste of time. Instead, look for angel investors, competitions or grants that have a passion for your industry or a strong connection to your business purpose as you’re more likely to find success that way.

Tailor your pitch

Make sure your pitch is tailored to the interests and skills of the investor or the organisation that you’re approaching. If they have a particular affinity for a specific part of your business, lean into that during your pitch.

When pitching at competitions or filling out applications for grants, Team Repair uses this tactic frequently: “When it comes to filling out the applications, we can adapt the social side of our business quite well. If the application talks about education we can talk about that side of our business, teaching STEM. Some applications talk about women in engineering so we can talk about that, and some have a focus on sustainability. So, I think because our business is doing well in lots of different categories it makes us applicable for lots of different competitions, so we’ve been pretty lucky in that regard.”

Give non-verbal cues

First impressions really do count. Dressing for success (in a smart suit, for example) will show that you're taking the meeting seriously. A strong handshake and eye contact will make you appear confident, increasing the investor's confidence in you and your product.

Write a slick slide presentation

Investors are busy people with short attention spans. Keep your presentation as short as possible without cutting any of the essential information. You want to get the key points across without rambling. If your investor deck goes on for more than ten slides or 20 minutes, it's probably too long.

Have a solid business plan

This will show the investors clearly who you are, what you're doing, where you plan to be next year and how you're going to get there. Your start-up’s business plan should be comprehensive. Make sure you include a SWOT analysis (looking at your product's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), some practical financial projections and a cost breakdown. Include a clear idea of what funding you need, what it will be spent on, and the kind of return your investors can expect.

Present SMART projections

The business goals you present should all be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Keeping your goals SMART will show investors that you've thought carefully about what your company can achieve and gives them a yardstick to measure performance by.

Develop a working prototype

While not applicable to every business type, a good working prototype serves multiple functions:

  • It shows investors where you are in the development process.
  • It lets them get hands-on to see how your product works in practice.
  • It shows any weaknesses, giving them an idea of where their investment could be best used.

Don't bring the prototype out until after you've finished presenting the facts and figures. Otherwise, your investors may be distracted while they play with the model.

Detail existing patents

If you've already applied for patents, bring along the paperwork. Be completely honest. Let the investors know exactly what has been done, what needs to be done and what's standing in the way of getting a patent for your product.

Demonstrate a clear view of your business' USP

Your investors should leave the meeting with a clear idea of what makes your product special. This should be the overall goal of your presentation.

Be prepared for questions

After you’ve given your pitch, be prepared for the follow up questions. Make sure you’re well versed in your number and figures and that you’re prepared to justify your business idea. “We’ve done hours and hours of question training on anything we think they could grill us on” says Megan.

If it helps, get a friend or family member to ask you questions as a way of preparing. That kind of repetition and practice can really help you work through answers until you have the best version.

Ask for feedback

A pitch shouldn’t be a one-way interaction. Even if you don’t secure the investment, getting some pointer on how to improve the pitch for the future can be extremely valuable.

Anaïs Engelmann, Chief Creative Officer of Team Repair says: “Our pitch has gone through so many changes over time. No pitch is ever perfect and we always refine it, take on feedback from the judges to make it a little bit better. We always try to get advice after a pitch as well, to see if there’s anything we could improve on. Sometimes it’s hard to get criticism but it’s definitely helped us develop.”

Find out more about 2022 Startup Angel Winners, Team Repair, in their interview here.

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