What Are Investors Looking for?

Before you begin writing your pitch, first you should zoom all the way out and consider who you are trying to reach. Obviously, your goal is to use your time wisely and get your idea in front of key contacts who can help your business succeed. There are several types of people who may fit this role, from venture capital partners, to talent recruiting agencies, to potential joint venture relationships. That said, you should always know who your audience is and frame your pitch in a way that speaks to their own goals or objectives. By presenting your idea in a way that makes sense to them, your chances of capturing their active attention increase dramatically.

Venture capitalist: Speaking to a venture capital partner about your business plan can be intimidating. After all, these are the folks with the deep pockets. The key to dealing with this anxiety is to remember that, in their eyes, you represent an opportunity to make those pockets even deeper. The goal of the venture capitalist is to invest in private companies, offering capital in exchange for equity, and facilitating opportunities for that equity to grow.

Now, in what ways can you leverage this knowledge to make your pitch more compelling? You should speak in terms of market size, scalability, and competition. You should have one sentence devoted to each aspect of the DuPont Framework (profit margin, asset turnover, and leverage). Know your ratios, especially cash conversion cycle. These are the metrics a venture capitalist will want to know about, because these metrics speak directly to their fundamental objective: turning money into more money.

Angel investor: Similar to venture capital partners, angel investors are looking to deploy their capital onto the front lines and hope they come home with more. However, there are some key differences between angel investors and venture capitalists, and you should be aware of them (for a detailed comparison, click here).

The key difference is that angel investors will often invest at earlier stages than venture capitalists. This means that angel investors also tend to invest a lot less money, as their investments are more speculative in nature. If you are pitching to angel investors, you likely have less financial data to report. Therefore, you should demonstrate the vitality of your startup by focusing on your own credentials (more on this later), as well as any previous relationships which you bring to the table that will help your business succeed. Round this off with a brief discussion about the ease of scalability and resiliency of your idea. Because you have limited financial data to impress the angel investor, you must convey yourself as the company's strongest asset.

Talent recruiter: When you are building your enterprise, it will be critical that you attract the right kind of talent to your firm. Since competent and passionate leaders are a limited resource, you will need to recruit these individuals by demonstrating your value relative to other firms they are considering. These people will be interested in the opportunity to grow with a company from the ground floor and make a difference in their industry. As they hear your pitch, they should imagine themselves shaping the future. If you lack the financial ability to offer a competitive salary, consider offering stock options.

Joint venture partner: One of the best ways to help your startup grow is to develop joint venture partnerships with other businesses that serve your ideal customer. By sharing customers via cross-promotional methods, your joint venture partnership reduces your marketing expenses and your cost per new customer acquisition. The key to locking down joint venture relationships is to make them an offer they can't refuse. Remember again to consider the goal of your audience. Your prospective joint venture partner must believe that you offer a quality product with integrity, as their reputation will be linked to yours through the joint venture.

After considering this step, you will likely realize that your pitch should be tweaked for each type of partner that you are approaching. Place your idea in the context of their own goals and you will benefit greatly.

Action Items:

  • Write a list of the goals and objectives of each type of person you are going to pitch.

  • Consider how your startup helps meet their goals. What are they trying to achieve, and how does your firm fit that vision?

  • Tailor your pitch to fit their needs and emphasize relevant strengths.