How to pitch to an investor

You've found a suitable investor and made your first approach. Now it's time to deliver your pitch.

But in that short window of time you get with the investor, what should you aim to get across? And what should you avoid?

In this article, we ask UK-based investors for their insights into what makes a winning pitch.

The investors

Investors are individuals. If you’re trying to raise funding, you’re actually trying to sell shares in your business to people. It’s about engaging someone, getting them excited and interested. Rod Beer Managing Director, UKBAA

Get to know each other

Hopefully you've already done your homework and you're entering the meeting with a detailed knowledge of your investor and how they operate.

Your job now is to establish a solid relationship with them. You should start off by building a rapport.

Investors need to be sure their investment will be in safe hands. Although they may learn a little about you when you first approach them, they'll look to find out much more during your pitch.

For example, as the leader of your business, do you have the character, ambition and drive to succeed and deliver a return on their investment?

Personal connections

But they'll also want to know they can connect with you on a personal level.

“That personal involvement is key,” says Jenny Tooth of UKBAA. “We're investing in the person — that's the main thing. Our confidence in you and your team. The personal bit of that is fundamental.”

“We talk to people all the time about their businesses,” says Alistair Brew of BGF. “We need to like them and they need to like us and there has to be some sort of catalyst, some sort of reason as to why an investment actually occurs.”

One such catalyst might be to demonstrate that you're focused on more than just finance. Showing a keen interest in the investor and their work — as well as other things outside of your business — could mean you stand more chance of building a good working relationship.

If a third party — a colleague, a friend or another entrepreneur, for instance — made the initial introduction, using that as a starting point for a conversation could work in your favour.

It’s all about how you tell the story, how you express yourself and how you respond to investors’ questions. Atuksha Poonwassie Managing Director, Simple Crowdfunding

Tell a story

When pitching, it can pay to present your information as a narrative. Reeling off facts can be boring, so craft stories around, for example:

  • how you and your team rallied round to solve a complex problem
  • how customers use your product
  • how your product aims to improve people’s lives

“The story is incredibly important when you’re looking for money,” says Jenny Tooth. “I don’t know you yet, so you have to captivate me. And a story makes it easier for me to absorb and engage the information — it pulls me into the problem and why you’re solving it.”

Your vision

And your story might fare even better if it incorporates your vision and ambitions for the business.

“At the end of the day, we’re taking a view on the future, which is inherently risky,” says Alistair Brew. “We’re talking about a journey, so we absolutely need a story and a vision to make that worthwhile. Without it, it’s quite hard to buy in to.”

But there’s nothing to say you must set down your vision in a brochure or document. Many investors simply want to hear the figures.

“When a person stands in front of us, we’re looking for a combination of big vision and a grasp of the details that make a business tick,” Brew adds.

“People often ask us, ‘Are you prepared to invest and if so, how much and on what terms?’ But to answer that question, we don’t need them to spend weeks writing up a glossy plan. We can engage with people just on a set of numbers.”

Present your pitch deck

By the time you come to pitch, most investors will have asked to see your pitch deck. This short presentation of slides sets out all the important aspects of your business, such as:

  • your product
  • your team
  • your business model
  • some key financial data

The deck you send to investors prior to the pitch can be fairly detail-heavy. With the version you use to support your face-to-face presentation, consider using less text and more visual information.

Both should be clear, simple and compelling, as their purpose is to spark interest in your company and get the investor engaged and excited.

Make sure your deck has information that the investor can read and understand without needing to see the accompanying presentation.

The key here is to convey the important information about your business concisely, so the investor understands exactly what they’re getting if they decide to invest.

The checklist below tells you what you should include in your pitch deck:

A good pitch deck might contain slides that explain:

  • Your value proposition - A short overview of what your business provides to customers
  • What problem you’re solving
  • Your ideal customer and target market
  • Your business model and plan
  • Any existing sales and customers
  • Your marketing strategy
  • Your team
  • Financial data - For example: a sales forecast, a profit and loss statement and a cash flow forecast
  • Your competitors
  • How you’ll use the investor’s funds
As Angels, we don’t need business plans when first evaluating a deal. Think about it from the sales approach — if you buy a house or car, you don’t get a 20-page manual. You get a brochure. Make it easy, show the key things that matter. Be concise. Jenny Tooth CEO, UKBAA

Business plan - yes or no?

There's some debate over whether business plans are useful, and not all investors will want to see one.

Those that do will expect an in-depth document that outlines every aspect of your business — basically everything from the pitch deck but in much greater detail.

However, it should be clear, well-written and backed up with relevant and accurate research and data. After all, it's intended to help an investor make a decision about whether to offer you finance.

"At some point, a business plan has to be created," says Alistair Brew. "In our world, that can simply mean a set of financial projections that show how the company will grow with a particular amount of funding invested.

"And then we need to understand the assumptions behind that. And that's the basis for our understanding. That's the moment when a process actually starts."

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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