Early-stage startups are thirsting for investor relationships, but many are unsure where to start. Ultra Light Startups, a community for tech entrepreneurs, hosts pitch events centered on investor feedback. After attending an Ultra Light Startups pitch contest in Cambridge, Mass., I noticed a common theme among many presenters: they were too caught up in jargon and failed to describe their business plans. Working with startups from a PR perspective, we often see this same disconnect.
Here are some tips for tech-savvy entrepreneurs looking to reach an investor audience:
Prepare an elevator pitch. At Ultra Light's pitch events, companies only have two to three minutes to make their pitches. Be ready to succinctly state what your company does. Note your customer's biggest pain point and how your company solves it.
Unsurprisingly, investors want to hear about your end users, as they will ultimately deem your company successful (or not). Identify your initial customer targets as well as later-stage targets. Do you already have customers? Be sure to highlight them.
Perform thorough market research. What is your target market? Will your initial market shift long-term? What is the expected market growth?
Don't be afraid to address your competition. “We're innovative and don't have any competitors” is not a believable answer. Investors will call you out on this and demand to know with whom you compete. Recognize other players in the field, and then state why you are unique.
Hone your public speaking and presenting skills. Remember that you're representing your company, so come polished and dressed appropriately. Be sure to interact with and address your audience directly – this means making eye contact with the audience, not the PowerPoint slide.
Clean Energy Venture Group's David Miller said it best when he told a company at the event, "You've got a neat idea, but now how do you turn that into a business?" It's clear that you need more than an idea to attract funding: you need a sales pitch and a business plan.
Are you prepared to pitch your startup? Do you have advice for new entrepreneurs?
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