10 Tips for Startups to Successfully Pitch to Investors

Last updated: August 19, 2022

It should be no surprise to know that startups need investors to get funding to get their business off the ground. One of the most nerve-wracking elements of finding investors is having to pitch your idea and paint a compelling picture of the benefits of your startup to persuade potential investors to help you make your dreams a reality.

There are many types of investors that you can contact to help fund your startup. Many investors will support startups in exchange for a stake in your company or a percentage of the profits after you reach a certain stage. Nonprofit investors will fund your startup without expecting you to pay them back. Investors are one of the primary funding sources for many startups in the early stages. Understanding how to pitch successfully can help you secure the early funding you need.

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    How to Pitch to Investors and Secure Funding

    Creating a successful pitch begins with a robust business plan highlighting what makes your startup unique and worth investing in. You’ll only have a limited time once you get in front of investors. You want to make every minute count. Here is what you need to do to make your pitch successful.

    1. Research Your Investors

    – You will pitch to many different investors with different interests. You want to research before you enter your pitch meeting and know exactly what kind of startups they’ve backed before, what makes them say yes, and what questions they may ask. You may not be able to know all the details of who these investors are, but knowing a little more about each background can make you more prepared for anything they may throw your way.

    2. Create an Elevator Pitch

    – You will meet many people on your journey to funding your startup. From visiting events to cold emailing potential investors, you will need to introduce yourself and your mission quickly within seconds. Creating a compelling elevator pitch can tell people who you are, what you do, and why it’s important.

    3. Tell a Story

    – If you load your pitch with figures, statistics and numbers, you may lose your investors’ interest early on. Storytelling is a proven way to capture an audience’s attention and hold on to it. Tell your story. You can start with a quick summary of how you got to where you are, your inspirations, your journey, or where you hope to be in the future.

    4. Be Realistic About Your Target Market

    – Develop a user persona or detail your ideal customer when you touch on who your target market is for your startup. Understanding your target market allows you to be more strategic in your marketing plan and business rollout, and investors appreciate these details. Investors can visualize who your startup will serve and the problem you intend to solve, creating a realistic idea of how profitable it can be.

    5. Include Data

    – While you don’t want to overload potential investors with too much data, you want to include critical details about projections and numbers. An effective pitch will provide thoroughly detailed market research that is well organized and strategically placed within your pitch to provide value.

    6. Detail Your Early Successes and Milestones

    – Depending on where you are in your journey. You want to build credibility by sharing any successes or traction you’ve made so far. Impress investors with your accomplishments thus far and detail a complete snapshot of your startup. After you’ve talked about your successes so far, touch on your roadmap, what you believe you’ll accomplish, and how funding will help your startup achieve it.

    7. Practice Your Pitch

    – Practice, practice, practice. You want to be able to speak about every element of your startup easily. A successful pitch is delivered with confidence. You can write down a speech and practice it with your team, friends, and family. Practice in front of a mirror and record yourself. Play it back and take notes. Being prepared with practice can show investors that you are in control and can be trusted to execute your vision.

    8. Provide an Exit Strategy

    – Often, startups overlook the value of providing an exit strategy for their investors during the pitch meeting. Although early in funding, most investors won’t worry too much about the details of an exit strategy, it’s good to be prepared if they ask. You’ll want to decide if you plan to go public, get acquired, or focus on a management buyout.

    9. Follow Up

    – After you meet with potential investors, one critical step is to ensure you follow up within 24 hours. Send a quick thank you and be genuine. Even if they choose not to move forward, a sincere thank you follow-up shows gratitude for their time commitment and may even help you secure funding from them in future rounds.

    10. Create a Pitch Deck

    – As you work through creating your pitch, you need to be able to create a pitch deck that closely follows your speech and provides clear and concise visuals and summaries of the data you’re providing to your investors. Your pitch deck should conclude with contact info.

    What to Include in a Pitch Deck

    Your pitch deck is essentially a presentation that compliments your pitch as you seek funding to get your startup off the ground. A powerful pitch deck will be clear, compelling, and provide easy instructions on next steps. You can create pitch decks with special software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Canva. Here is how you create a compelling pitch deck that will entice investors to move forward.

    Choose a Professional Visual Style

    – You want to keep your pitch deck simple and with a professional layout. You want to think minimalism without too many distracting images or text. Ensure your style is consistent from start to finish, from the colors to the font type.

    Include Information About Who You Are and Your Team

    – Your investors will want to know your background and any key players working to make your startup a success. Including who you are will help investors and you decide if you will be a good fit working together. You can provide contact information at the end.

    Start with a High

    - Level Overview–Create a high-level overview of your product or service. Keep it simple and include a few key points that will likely encourage the investors to want to learn more. This is where you would begin your elevator speech.

    Explain The Problem What Your Product or Service Solves

    – Create a slide that explains the problem your startup aims to solve. Detail the problem and your target audience why the problem needs to be solved in the first place, along with supporting evidence that backs your details.

    Include Data

    – Throughout your pitch deck, include data that adds to your story as you tell it. Having one slide with all of your data can be too busy and overwhelming. Including key points as you move through your presentation will keep the information fresh in your investor’s minds and relate it to the details in your story where you included the data.

    The success of your startup depends on your ability to conduct the research needed to put together a comprehensive pitch to sell your idea to investors. The better prepared you are to present your pitch, the more likely you will succeed. With a fully detailed pitch, you can be prepared at a moment’s notice to speak about your startup via email, phone calls, or through networking functions.

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