Here are 5 tips to help you make a great first impression on investors in a speed dating event.
Research each investor you will be meeting
Make an effort to check out the background of the VC firm participating in the event. Then tailor your presentation accordingly. Find out about their portfolio and recent investments made. What is their direction or big picture of the VC firm? What kind of startups are they looking for? Do you fit their portfolio? What is the background of the investors that you will be speaking to? Research their Linkedin profiles and speak to somebody who knows them. Ask the organiser of the speed dating event for help too.
Impress in the 1st minute
You have only limited time during a speed dating event. Don’t waste your time telling the investor a long story how or why you started your company. Practice your elevator pitch over and over. Make a strong first impression in the first minute. Briefly introduce yourself (name and job title) and what your company do in a concise one-liner. It should cover the problem you are solving, for whom, your target market and your secret sauce that makes you different from others. Get the key points in (I suggest 3 maximum). eg. What are the 3 most important features or benefits of your product. Then state clearly how you are going to make money and whether you have gained any traction already. If you have won any awards for your product, highlight it too. The important thing is to give them enough information (in under 2 minutes) to tease them to want to find out more from you later. Lastly, state clearly what you want from them at the end of the pitch. e.g. raise $50k for further product development. If you do this well, you will leave ample time for the investor to ask you a few questions before the bell rings.
(Tip: come for the Entreport Asia PowerUp Workshops on 24 Sep and learn how to develop a good story out of your startup and pitch effectively to investors and media)
Prepare to answer questions
The main purpose of your pitch is to intrigue the investor enough to want to fund out more about your startup. During the speed-dating rounds, expect 1 or 2 questions in the limited duration. And if they like you, they will likely ask you more questions after your pitch. So you must be prepared. Before the event, draw up a list of questions that you would anticipate the investor to ask. Rehearse with your friends, they will come up with more questions.
Get your materials ready
Have you got a 5-slide deck ready? You need to customise one for a speed dating event. Don’t use your normal deck which is meant for a longer presentation. Your speed-dating deck should contain more visual items that text. e.g. use clear visuals to illustrate the buying process if you are an ecommerce company. If you are including financial numbers, don’t cut and paste an excel sheet into your slide! Put in meaningful and relevant figures that makes sense to the investor. Don’t confuse them with your impressive jargons and complex projections.
Always follow up
During your pitch session, it is ideal to have a co-founder with you to take notes or questions that the investor asks, while you are presenting. Once your pitch is over, exchange namecards with the investor (get yours ready in hand!). After the event is over, go over and speak to the investor to follow up on any questions that he/she may have. The next day, send the investor an email to thank them for their time. Include a brief profile (in the mail itself) and your contact information. Lastly, include a fresh deck containing more information and be sure to address any outstanding questions that they may have asked the day before. This may require you to attach additional information.
Please make eye constant contact and remember to smile. Show some enthusiasm in your tone. And don’t argue with the investor! You have no time.
If you are up to the challenge, join the Six A Pitch speed-dating event on 26 September (www.entreport.asia/sixapitch.html)
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