22 Jun Top Tips From Our Previously Successful Entrepreneurs
Applying for funding as an entrepreneur can be daunting. Henley Business Angels strives on supporting entrepreneurs and helping them to grow, both financially and professionally. Not only do we deliver our Investment Readiness Workshop alongside our sponsors to prepare entrepreneurs for their pitches, but we also put on ‘dry-runs’ of pitches and provide feedback to the entrepreneurs to improve and succeed.
Our applications remain open all year round, however, we have 4 ‘deadlines’ throughout the year to select companies to pitch at our quarterly events. Pitching is a huge element of an entrepreneur’s funding experience, and can be an area where they make the most mistakes. We asked some of our previously successful entrepreneurs for some of their top tips for entrepreneurs applying to Henley Business Angels and here’s what they said.
Udhi Silva, Co-Founder and Commercial Director of Snaffling Pig Co., a pork-snack based business that has been featured on ITV’s This Morning and was recently named the 7th fastest-growing food and drink brand in the UK, received investment from a number of HBA members in 2019.
- Keep your pitch short.
Ensure in your opening pitch you explain the what, why and how/problem you are solving. Do not over complicate it, try and capture the size of the market, how many players and why you plan to take this on and how.
- Proof of concept.
Before pitching to investors I think it’s so important to demonstrate that your product/service sells and you have done this numerous times. Proving that you have tested it/sold it over and over gives investors more confidence that your product is worth backing.
Paul Stockwell, Managing Director of Process Vision, an innovative company that prevents pipeline contamination in the petro-chemical and natural gas industries, received investment from Henley Business Angels members twice since our establishment in 2016.
- Keep it all positive
Investors see a high number of possible investments. To a large extent, investors are looking for a reason to say no and move on to the next opportunity.
- Look at it from the investors perspective
They are not interested in the technical details. If you were investing, what are the key pieces of information you would want to know to compare with another venture?
- Be prepared
Hopefully, you will get questions from potential investors. Be ready to answer ones that show you have considered risks and have mitigation for them.
- Sell the team
Don’t underestimate how important the team is. A great venture with a poor team is more likely to fail than a mediocre venture with a great team.
- There is a lot of help out there to build a good pitch deck. Take advantage of it.
- You have to kiss a lot of frogs!
- Pitch the big idea
The audience will have a huge range of business experience, but you can’t assume they know much about your sector. So explain the big picture first, and if it catches their imagination there is plenty of time for them to discuss details with you in questions or after the talk.
- Know your financial metrics
When investors DO show interest they’ll be impressed if you can talk about recent financial metrics without hesitation. Monthly revenue, burn rate, average revenue growth and customer acquisition cost are some of the headline metrics they’ll want to hear about. Saying ‘let me get back to you’ implies you’re not really on top of the finances.
- Don’t get sucked into financial modelling
Investors will want to see cash flow forecasts for your business, but startup fortunes change rapidly and even projections 12 months out can be highly inaccurate. The financial forecasts should demonstrate that your business CAN become highly profitable, but experienced startup investors will take your Year 5 revenue projection with a fistful of salt. Investors coming from more predictable businesses may try to draw you into the detail of forecasting assumptions, but spending time in Excel won’t necessarily convince them to invest.
- Focus on the impact of your solution, don’t get lost in the specifics of your technology/service
- Back up all your claims with numbers: if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist
- Demonstrate that your business is scalable and there is a large addressable market
- Pitch to people that don’t know your business or idea beforehand.
You will get a lot more out of it than pitching to family or friends that might be familiar with it.
- Know your numbers, especially for the follow up meetings.
This recommendation won’t be unusual but not knowing your key numbers can lose the investor excitement very quickly.
- Be prepared sooner rather than later.
I maintained a data room from 2015 onwards because it is much easier to update than create from scratch… We didn’t raise investment until 2018.
- Know your deck inside and out
When pitching, leave a few unanswered questions in your pitch so that you can steer the questioning to areas that you want to answer. Henley Business Angels are great with this as they will give you an opportunity during your pre-pitch meetings to decide on these unanswered questions with the event Chair so that they can be raised after your pitch.
- Show ambition, but be honest and grounded. Investors can see nativity a mile away, and worse yet if you’re being dishonest.
- Speak with as many angel investors as possible (quantity meetings better than quality)
- Find an angel investors that shares “the problem you are solving” (to achieve this you have to do what I said in item #1)
- Have shorter pitches and more room for questions.
Tips for Improving and Growing Your Business
Outside of pitching, Matt Roberts, CEO and Founder of Zokri, a leading OKR and Performance Management software platform for start-ups and scale-ups, gave us 5 top tips for entrepreneurs looking to build, improve and grow their business. Zokri received investment from one Henley Business Angels member back in 2020.
- Get clarity on what matters most. If you’re a start-up it’s likely to be Product Market Fit. If you’re a scale-up that will evolve to growth related activities like Internationalisation, scaling teams like Sales.
- Get measurements like Product Analytics in early as you’ll want to get a baseline and set goals to improve KPIs
- Set goals using Objectives and Key Results (OKR) – it’s the default way to set goals for start-ups and scale-ups.
- Set a few, or even just one ambitious goal when you’re starting out – the more you focus on the more your efforts will be diluted.
- Share your progress and plans for the week ahead on a Monday and share your wins on a Friday – stay focused and agile