HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM
Know what you are (and are not) good at.
Know who you want to plug the gaps – whether it’s new team members or advisers. Have a shortlist, follow them, court them and know what it will take to get them.
Demonstrate why you are the right team, for example focus on facts such as how long have you known each other or worked together; how you complement each other.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
Design and usability are crucial in consumer products. Experiment and fine-tune – understand what product changes make what difference to metrics.
Use online marketing techniques based on return on investment (ROI) and demonstrate what works – or not – and why. Show what you think you can do with money to improve product/expand traction.
Know your key performance indicators (KPIs) and why they are important: demonstrate metrics, analytics and improvements along a path and know where more money will take you.
REMEMBER IT IS OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY YOU ARE ASKING FOR
Understand how you have used your money so far: where it’s been well spent and where it’s been wasted.
Think about your future needs in a detailed cash flow usage over the next two years.
Think about the path to steady monthly sources of incoming cash flow as a basis if possible.
Use benchmarks to show your figures are market.
UNDERSTAND YOUR POTENTIAL
Don’t waste too much time predicting revenues out of very little context or evidence, but do have a sense of market opportunity/size.
Think about business models that investors know and understand from elsewhere and can apply to you logically. Talk passionately about the big picture vision and the roadmap to that vision. Know what the key products you will need to launch are and key metrics you will need to aspire to over that period.
GET THE BUSINESS MODEL RIGHT
Explain how you build win – win relationships with customers and/or consumers to create protective hurdles in your business models – and dependencies of your customers on you.
Understand the competitive dynamics – both similar and different stories to yours – and what you are changing or what you are leveraging (if it already works well) from others.
Is this disruption or incremental innovation? Plan for the appropriate success criteria appropriately, which means not underestimating the time it takes to change certain habits or change established ecosystems.
Know why you are giving something up for free (if you are) – what orthogonal business model or purpose you have.
FIND THE BEST FUNDING FOR YOU
Be selective about who you approach for funding – make sure it’s the right fit in terms of culture, experience, success and personal dynamic – after all this is a long-term relationship. Focus on the individual, not the firm, initially.
Be bold in approaching VCs – network, go to events, ask for personal intros. Demonstrate you are a good entrepreneur in getting that meeting.
If you are raising money from institutional investors especially, ensure you are aligned in terms of long term. They will want to deploy a certain amount of capital with you over time and will have certain expectations of multiples of returns. It won’t work if you want to build a lifestyle business, non-scalable business or don’t have the same time/business size ambitions and intentions as they do.
Practise the elevator pitch – time is of the essence to capture interest for a real meeting. Listen to other start-ups pitching at events so you can pick up constructive learning on what to improve yourself.