Slush is coming and that means that a lot of Nordic startups are preparing for landing an investment during the event. As the investors will get a lot of meeting invitations from a lot of startups, getting a meeting with the right one requires that you take the right steps to secure the meeting. In this article, we explore some things that you can do in order to enhance the change of getting the meeting that will lead to your next investment.
Avoid Generic Messages
Matchmaking platforms easily push you towards sending as many invites as possible. And as you want to be an efficient entrepreneur, you will copy-paste the message to all recipients.
The problem in this tactic is that the meeting invitation will look exactly like what it is: a generic message to a bunch of investors. Thus, it tells to the investor that this startup has approached every investor in the event and if they still have openings for a meeting the startup cannot be that interesting. So sending generic invitations is actually worse than not sending invitations at all.
Check Investor Profile and/or Investment Strategy
Most of the matchmaking platforms have some sort of investor profile. And even if there is no investor profile, most of the investors share their investment strategy on their website.
Check the investment strategy and see if it fits your case. If it does not, skip the investor and move to the next one. (Believe me, trying to convince me to invest in a gaming company is 100% waste of your time, no matter how hard you try to convince me about the B2B aspects of your startup.) If it does, make sure you bring this up in the meeting invitation.
Best way to secure a meeting from your desired investor is to get an introduction. Thus, before the event, you should discuss with your existing investors whether they can connect you with the interesting parties. If you can get an introduction from your existing investors saying “You should take a look at this; it’s the most exciting company in my portfolio and fits perfectly to your investment strategy” you have a good start.
Another source of potential introductions are the founders of the portfolio companies of your targeted investors. Personally, I believe that successful people know other successful people; thus, if a founder I hold in high regard asks me to meet some other founder, I will be excited to have the meeting.
Check your timing before you approach the potential investors. If your round is already open, it is highly unlikely that you will get an investment for that round (unless you are prepared to keep your round still open for three to six months). In this case target angel investors that can move quickly (VCs and CVCs always need more time; as do some angels). Or, you can just forget your current round and start preparing for the next one.
If your round is taking place within the next three to six months, this is the right time to start building your “short list” i.e. scouting potentially interested investors. This is also the right time to pitch your case to the investors. If you have already determined the terms for the round, you can share those as well.
If your round is still over six months away, you should mainly use the meetings to present your company and push it into the potential investors’ radar. It is still too long time to the investment round, so pitching the current status is yesterday's news once you are fundraising. So instead of pitching, use the facetime more on marketing your company and ensuring that you can get the next meeting when your round is a little bit closer.
When meeting with the investors keep in mind that you only have one shot: If you do poorly in the meeting, you will not get the next one; the chance with that investor is gone. Period.
Know Your Business, Know Your Numbers
You need to convince the investors that you know your business inside out. Whether it comes to your company or the market, you need to be prepared to answer all the questions.
The above also relates to your numbers: You need to know the key numbers of your business by heart. “I need to ask our accountant” is a wrong answer to the question of “What is your current MRR?”.
Even if the final terms are not determined, you should have a ballpark on the key terms: Size of the round, valuation, key SHA terms and so on.
Pitching vs. Meeting
In the events, the meeting time is usually very limited. Take this into account when considering what you do in the meeting with the investor. If you use ten minutes of the 15-minute meeting to go through your deck, you leave zero time for questions as five minutes will be burned for finding the right table and small talk.
Personally, I prefer quick elevator pitch -type of presentations followed by a to-the-point-Q&A on the key topics.
Make sure your investor deck is state of art. (Tips on creating great investment deck can be found here and tips what not to do here.) Also, ensure that you have one version that works also without you talking it through. This is the version you can give to the investor. There is only a limited time in the meetings, so any deep dive into the materials needs to be done in separately.
Before you are discussing your funding round with external investors, you should have it discussed with existing investors as well. Having your existing investors are investing with the same terms offered to external investors is a positive signal to the existing investors; on the other hand, if they are not supporting your plan, potential new investors are unlikely to jump in.
Don’t Pitch at the After Party
There is time for pitching and there is time for the party. By the time of the after party many of the participants are quite exhausted and want just to catch up, network and otherwise have a good time, so it is not the right time to pitch anymore.
Also, even though it might feel like it, your pitch does not get better with the fifth G&T. If you meet a potential investor you can always exchange contact information and continues after the event.