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Attracting Investors in a Virtual World: Tips for Pitching from Home

2020 has set in place a different reality. Suddenly, there was no more waking up early and rushing for a last-minute flight, riding through a new city in a blur of cab rides from meeting to meeting, before packing for the first flight back the next morning.

Working from home (WFH) is the new normal, so how do you transpose that real-world interaction and chemistry to a video call?  How do you Pitch from Home?

Founders get anxious about this when they realise they’re not going to see investors at a conference or networking event. Ironically, with significant time saved from commuting and flying, many investors actually have more time now for meeting founders.

But it doesn’t mean that getting a meeting will be easier. Founders still have to cut through a barrage of webinar and Zoom invites. So here’s my quick advice on getting a “yes” to a meeting, and making it a home run.

Getting the Meeting

Make it an easy “yes”

Investors can’t take every meeting request. That’s why warm introductions are important. I am immediately more keen if you are referred to by another founder or investor whom I already respect.

Look through your name cards, spend time reconnecting with founders who have raised Seed and Series A rounds, and earn the right introductions.

If you’re attending a virtual webinar, ask well-researched questions and connect with the investor on social media after. If you’re reaching out cold, I’m much more likely to respond if the context connects it to a webinar I just participated in.

Also Read: Getting your story straight with a pitch deck flow

Send your deck

Before an investor will take a meeting, they may need to qualify a few things first. Does the stage of your company align with their investment strategy? Does the product/solution fit within the fund’s thesis? Is there any conflicting overlap already in the portfolio?

Your deck will help answer these questions quickly for the investor – so if they ask for a deck, don’t feel like you lost an opportunity to pitch, realise it can be a door opener.

Before the Meeting

Really get to know your investor

Once you’ve secured a meeting, our Indonesia-based Associate, Andri Wardhani, recommends analysing the fund’s investment mandate (i.e. geographical coverage, ticket size, stage, space). Look up podcasts, articles and interviews by the team to find patterns of their interest.

If you’re a brick and mortar startup, get creative

Participate in virtual industry roadshows, take warehouse videos and send product samples to your prospective investors. Anything to help them understand your day-to-day operations (short of a visit to your facilities).

Rehearse team dynamics

A startup’s team dynamic and culture reflect more on the potential ahead, more than any deck. Try to replicate your culture online. Coordinate early on who presents at which parts, and who answers certain questions.

Invest in a good quality setting

A little viewing comfort goes a long way. If you’re doing lots of calls, you may want noise-cancelling headphones.  Make sure you have good WiFi (or take advantage of Zoom’s phone dial-in feature to pair it with your video).

Take five minutes before every meeting to ensure that your set-up is working.  I also recommend if you’re gonna pitch, watch a few funny videos just beforehand to pick up your energy and get your brain in a positive mood.

Also Read: Pitch deck fundamentals: What you need to include to build an effective one

During the Meeting

Read the room

In a physical space, you can feel the energy of the room — even if you’re not consciously aware of it. Body language, eye contact, nodding and vocalisations are all clues to whether a founder is nailing the pitch.

These are mostly lost in online meetings, where you don’t always get to see or hear behind the screen. And when you are unable to grasp when an investor is engaged or distracted, it is easier to miss the mark.

Uses pauses

To make an online pitch engaging and conversational; keep it short, sweet, and pause to check in after every major point. Our Senior Associate, Jeffrey Chua, a self-proclaimed actor, advises founders to think of pitching as a play of seven acts (market, problem, solution, product, traction, revenue model, and team).

Have a short intermission between each act. Take a breath and gently ask investors if they have any questions. Address them immediately instead of leaving them to the end of the presentation.

Closing the Meeting

Always ask about the next steps

Before the end of every call, be sure to inform the investor of your fundraising time frame and your planned process. Find out what the investor’s usual process is, and ask how they will move forward. Their answers should give you a good gauge of how interested they are, and if they think you’re a good fit.

I hope it comforts founders to know that investors don’t necessarily prioritise in-person meetings in the investment process. Even before the lockdowns began, it was quite common in this region to meet mostly online – and even back founders without meeting them in person.

And as the pandemic wanes, I can imagine the industry retaining many aspects of the “new normal”. There could be much lower expectations of in-person meetings as investors and founders grow comfortable with building relationships through Zoom calls and Whatsapp messages.

Bottom line is: a great team with a great product wins every time. Keep the tips above in mind, keep working at it, and investors will be asking for your time.

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Image Credit: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

This article was first published on October 21, 2020

The post Pitching from home: How to get investors’ attention in a virtual world appeared first on e27.

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