By Ben Ball, Benjamin Ball Associates
When you are scaling your business – and pitching for money to help you scale (Series B and beyond) – you need a convincing investment pitch. And your Series B investment pitch should be different from the one you used at Series A.
Recently I spent a day at Frog Capital, coaching a series of companies, including some of Frog’s portfolio companies, to polish their growth stage investment pitches. While every pitch I saw was good, at Benjamin Ball Associates we know that when pitching for money, being good is not good enough.
To be successful, and to make sure you grab attention, you need your pitch to stand out. You want to be sure that your investor is excited about the investment opportunity from the very start. And at Benjamin Ball Associates we help companies perfect their investor pitches every day.
While every investment pitch is different, these were some of the most common issues we saw in the investment pitches we worked on at the recent workshop at Frog Capital:
- Your Investment Story is not the same as Your Company Story
Most companies were great at pitching their firms – they sell their business, product or service every day. But an investment pitch is different. Investors are looking for more than a great product – they need a great investment. Just showing the numbers is not enough. As the CEO or CFO, you need to show that you really have the investor’s interests front of mind. And you need to show that you are the right people to lead the company through this next, challenging stage of growth.
- Series B is About Scaling Up
That means your strategy for scaling up and your short-term plans are central to your investment pitch. Are you clear what you will do next, what your capabilities are and where your weaknesses are? Are you ambitious enough and suitably focused? Do you make it easy for the investor to understand your market and how you have positioned your business in that market? You must be ready to be grilled on all your thinking. And during that grilling you want to show that you listen and address the investor’s concerns.
- Understand What’s Most Important To An Investor
For every business this is different. You may need to address issues with your management team, your strategy, your attitude to risk, the way you handled past challenges or the mistakes you made. I always find it fascinating how management and investors so often have different views of what’s most important to the investment case. That’s why we love role-playing different investment meetings so you understand how an investor is thinking about your business.
- Keep It Simple
It’s very tempting to keep adding to your pitch. But the best pitches are often the most pared down. They strip out the detail and focus on the important things. It’s a case of being clear and simple, without being simplistic. This is tough when you are close to the business, but it is essential.
- Polish Your Pitch Before You Meet Investors
Polishing your pitch is not about having a better PowerPoint. Your slides are just a small part of the pitch. You want to be thinking about how you approach the meeting; the research you do beforehand; the information you send in advance; the way you shine as a team; how you handle tough questions. You want to be clear how you interact with the investor, and the strengths and weaknesses in each person’s personal performance. You’d be amazed how many investment pitches die because the investor sees something in the team that they don’t like.
Those are a few of the things we helped companies fix in their pitches. Clearly there was much more besides. And now we will be working with them to really strengthen their skills. Just like a tennis lesson, you don’t become a good tennis player with a few hours of coaching. You need to go away and practise, so that when you are speaking to investors for real, you are on top form.