Scale-up Business Guide to Getting Investor-Ready: The Pitch

Have you got your business up and running but never pitched to an investor before?

Not sure what you need to bring to a pitch? 

The pitch is where you showcase all the work you have done before this moment to get investor-ready. Without a clear and convincing presentation of your business and its potential then you won’t stand a great chance getting investment in. 

This article will outline the different aspects of your business you need to bring into a pitch. 

Firstly however, before the pitch you must decide on which type of funding is right for your business right now. This may be through equity investment, debt funding or grants. Before going to pitch you must know who you are pitching too.

The most important thing is that you do the leg work and preparation before a pitch. You need to know your business inside out. Where it is now, where it’s been and where it’s going. You cannot over prepare for a pitch. And the following are what you need to prepare. 

Pitch Deck

A pitch deck is a good way to start presenting your proposal to potential investors. It is the presentation document that you show at the pitch and is a way to format the necessities that you need to include.

Your pitch deck can be in the form of a PowerPoint but most importantly it must be easy to understand, engaging and clear. The last thing you want to happen is to bore your potential investors. 

As a starting point this is a basic outline of what your pitch deck needs

  • An Introduction.  Who are you giving the pitch? What is your company name?
  • The Opportunity/Problem. What problem are you as a company solving? And/or what’s the opportunity you want from the investors?
  • The Solution. How does your business, through a product or service,  solve the problem you have previously laid out?
  • Your Team. Who are the key members on your team? And what are their roles within the business?
  • Traction. How fast do you plan to grow and over what period of time? Always be detailed in the information you give.
  • Your Business Vision. Where is the company going to be five years from now? You need to genuinely believe in this in order to convince the investors.
  • The Product/service. How does your product or service work? Can you show them an example?
  • The Market. What does the market you operate in look like? Is it growing and how will you take advantage of it?
  • Business Model. How do you make money? This is obviously what the investors care a lot about.
  • Customer Acquisition. How do you plan to grow your audience? 

Here are 3 examples of successful pitch decks

Airbnb

See Airbnb’s pitch from 2008

WeWork

See WeWork’s pitch from 2014

Uber

See Uber’s pitch from 2010

Business plan 

Your business plan plainly shows that you have thought through your proposal. You have done the required research and work before arriving at the pitch. 

It makes it clear that you have created a strategy and an evaluation process where you and potential investors can measure the business’ success. This is something the investors will be looking for.

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L or income statement), Balance sheet & Cash Flow for at least three years 

Your financials are one of the most important aspects of your pitch. It’s what the investors will base a lot of their decision upon. 

Investors are risk averse and through your financials you can show them that investing in your business is not only safe but smart. 

It is crucial to be honest with your financial figures. Investors understand that companies that aren’t currently making profit may do so in the future as long as there is a sustainable strategic plan in place. At the same time they also know that just because a company is currently making profit it doesn’t guarantee that in the future they will – especially if there is no clear strategy in place.  

Promotional video

Having a promotional video to supplement your pitch will help give you an extra edge in the room. Images and videos can communicate aspects of your message much quicker than words. 

It also shows that you are serious about your company and the investment opportunity because you have put in the time to create the video prior to the meeting. If you can personalise the video to the specific investment meeting then that is even better. 

This from Creative Mustard Creative Agency is a great example of a promotional video. It’s engaging, well edited and clearly lays out what the company is about. 

Mustard Creative Agency – Intro Video 

And this from WeWork mixes facts, personal stories and reviews about the company to create an effective promotional video.

Life at WeWork | WeWork 

One page teaser

Within your pitch deck a one page teaser is important. It is exactly what it sounds like. In one page give a short and concise overview of your company and where it’s going – making what you’re offering an exciting investment opportunity. 

This document is likely what the investor will look at first to see if they are interested in the opportunity or not, so you need to make sure you put your best work into the teaser.

What to include in your one page teaser:

  • Brief outline of who you are and what your business does.
  • Details about your team.
  • Your Value Proposition (what is the problem and how do you solve it).
  • Who your target audience is. 
  • Brief financial projections.
  • Achievements your business has already accomplished.

Here is a one page investment teaser template from Slideteam.

Elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is how you would verbally sell your company in a very short period of time, for example, the length of an elevator journey. 

This term is bandied around almost to cliched level but nevertheless it is a crucial part of your investor ready armoury. This is because you never know when a surprise opportunity could arise to pitch your company to an investor. 

Through your elevator pitch you could set up a meeting to discuss investment potential. Because of this you need to always have in your head the quick and concise pitch that presents your company as an attractive prospect. 

Here’s a great example of a short, concise and effective elevator pitch. It predicts questions that would be likely asked and answers them with clarity. 

Matt Watts Elevator Pitch (example)

A term sheet for investors

Your term sheet is an agreement in principle for your investors that will show the basic terms and conditions of the investment. The term sheet is legally non-binding but it is used as the basis for the future legally binding agreement. 

Like all aspects of your pitch, the term sheet highlights that you and your company have done the necessary prep work and are serious about the investment and the future of your company. 

Rocket Lawyer has created a free term sheet template that you can use for your own company – see it here.

To sum up

As previously stated, investors are risk averse and there is no quicker way to scare off an investor than a pitch that is underprepared and has holes in it. 

This is why it is so important to put in the amount of time needed to create your full and detailed pitch. Don’t give an investor the opportunity to think that you under prepared an aspect of your pitch so cover all bases.

If preparing your top level pitch deck is proving difficult for your company then you can hire a Part-time Director who has experience of creating successful pitch decks and can be brought in to help the process.

Getting investor-ready? Read more about:

The Financials

The Raise

The People

The Marketplace

The Customers

The Plan for Exit

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.