Pitching your idea to investors …. in 30 minutes or less

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You have a great business idea. Very soon it will become clear to you that to turn that idea into concrete reality will mean raising capital. You will need to sell the idea to investors. And usually you get a window of 30 minutes or less to make your pitch. Presenting your idea in a convincing and coherent way is a core competency for entrepreneurs.

Here are some tips for perfecting your pitch:

1. Show it can be done

Start creating or delivering the product or service on a small scale so that when you make your pitch, it is not just an idea but has been backed by some action. You have data and experience to talk about. The more tangible or real you can make your business idea, the greater your chances of attracting the interest of an investor. Investors like to see, touch and experience.

2. Put the right team together

Finding the right team is important. It helps refine your pitch. Investors put their money on teams not just ideas. Being able to show that you have the right team in place maximizes your chance of success. The team should have some relevant experience in the industry or in launching ventures. If you have a gap, it’s best to admit it and talk about your strategy for filling it with the right person.

3. Forecasts should be realistic

Yes, you can promise lots of blue sky, but chances are it will be met with skepticism. Financial forecasts and predictions for your venture are necessary but no one really believes them. Please don’t say, “These are just conservative numbers”. Be bold but retain a sense of realism. Remember that the risk to investors is great if you fail. Your job is to make them realize how well off they will be if you succeed.

4. Offer clear benefits

Can you list three clear advantages or benefits to investors in backing your idea? Benefits that are stated clearly and convincingly. It has been found that most people can take away at most three important points from a presentation. If you can make an acronym of your three advantages, it will be so much more memorable.

5. Have a maximum of 10 slides

You want your investor to focus on your pitch. Make slides for your presentation that will immediately capture his attention. Interesting pictures with a few words. You can elaborate the thought in an additional sentence or two that you speak over the slide. This will give the investor a sense of your personality and your personal conviction that the idea will work (your tone of voice says a lot). Capture the investor’s imagination and be prepared to answer questions at any point.

6. Do a dry run with a skeptic

Run your pitch by someone who you know can be critical and won’t mince words. Show a clear revenue stream and easy-to-understand cost structure. Avoid jargon. Show that your idea is ‘bankable’ in that it has the potential to grow very fast and is inherently profitable. A clear and concise pitch well delivered can get that nod from the investor. Those 30 minutes will be well spent. You will soon be on your way to success.

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