Slush, the world’s leading start-up event, is back for 2021 and fast approaching like an innovation rocket. A lot of European start-ups are busy preparing for game-changing investment opportunities at the event. As a leading global investment and advisory firm, we get a lot of meeting invitations from a lot of start-ups.
In this blog, Tyson& Blake Strategic Investor and co-author of ‘Racing Towards Excellence,’ Muzaffar Khan, shares some insider tips on landing the meeting that could lead to your next investment.
Be Personal: Avoid Generic Messages
Matchmaking platforms will push you towards sending as many invites as possible, and as a keen and efficient entrepreneur, you will duly copy-paste a message to all recipients.
Stop right now. The meeting invitation will look exactly like what it is: a generic message to a wide bunch of investors. At Tyson & Blake, we like unique approaches and innovation from inspiring people – that includes first contact!
Check Investor Profile and/or Investment Strategy
Most investors share their investment strategy on their website. Do your due diligence and see if you are likely to align with what they are looking for. If you do, make sure that you bring this to their attention in your approach and subsequent stages.
Tyson & Blake are always keen to work with founders with similar goals and values who are passionate about creating a positive social impact for the communities we live in. It is highly unlikely time will be available for opportunities outside the core focus.
Get an Introduction
One of the best ways to secure a meeting from an investor is to get an introduction. If you already have it, discuss whether they can connect you with other interested parties. Ideally, you’re looking for a reference along the lines of “You should take a look at this; it’s the most exciting company in my portfolio and fits perfectly to your investment strategy”
Another source of potential introductions are the founders of other companies. If a founder has delivered for their investors, these will genuinely be excited to meet new opportunities introduced by a known and trusted partner.
Before discussing your funding round with external investors, you should have it discussed with existing investors as well. Having your existing investors 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 might be unwilling to jump in.
If your round is still over six months away, you can still use the meetings at Slush to present your company and push it into the potential investors’ radar. 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.
You can and should take advantage of the occasion to learn more about what others are doing, most importantly in your market segment. Be open to new opportunities!
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 probably gone.
Know Your Business, Know Your Numbers
You need to know your business inside out. Whether it comes to your company or the market, you need to be prepared to answer any and all questions.
This also relates to your numbers. You need to know the key numbers of your business by heart.
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.
Make sure your deck is state of art. Concise, self-explanatory and visually appealing. Ensure you have a version that works without you talking it through. This is the version you can share with potential investors. If they are interested. For quiet review and deeper discussion at a later date.
Pitching vs. Meeting
Meeting time is usually very limited. Take this into account when considering what you will talk about in your meeting with potential investor / partners. No-one likes (or needs!) a hard sell, and it certainly won’t be appreciated.
Know your audience and focus the time wisely on developing a personal connection. You’ve already got their attention. There’ll be time enough for looking at data and statistics later – if you are successful at awakening their interest and desire!
Inspiring people creates consistent outperformance. From the frontal lobe, the centre of our advanced intelligence, inspiration is about seeing things with an open mind and working to discover what you love. It is a nurturing way of leading: Inspiration creates enthusiasm, the fuel of success. Credibility and consistency come from enthusiasm. People who are genuinely enthusiastic about an idea, a venture, a job or anything else tend to be trusted implicitly. Enthusiasm has enormous power in winning you backers for your business, research project or anything else you may choose to undertake.
“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher
So be inspiring. Be enthusiastic. Be passionate. Be you. Wishing you every success. MK
Muzaffar Khan is the managing partner and founder of Next Gen Capital, managing director of Alchemy Ventures and Co-Chairman of the MOBO Trust. He is an experienced venture capital investor in next generation technology and social enterprises, including Copia and ClearAccessIP (acquired by IPwe.)
Khan’s mentorship philosophy and techniques were the subject of Racing Towards Excellence, a book co-authored with one of his mentees, Jan Sramek. Past academic positions include Lecturer at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and research fellow at the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College London. He is a mentor for start-ups in Silicon Valley including at Cardinal Ventures, the Stanford university accelerator, and at 500 Startups.