In the last few weeks, we have been focused on preparing the entrepreneurs to raise capital from investors. This coaching has covered the presentation materials and live pitching that are essential for entrepreneurs, as well as how to put together adequate documentation to engage investors & key things to know regarding amounts of capital to raise and valuation.
Given the type of investment returns that Angel and Venture Capital investors typically look for, we have started by ensuring that all the entrepreneurs are effectively articulating a vision that clearly shows how their business could scale to be gigantic. This coaching has comprised of a significant amount of one-to-one sessions. The results have been quite dramatic for those who recognize the effectiveness of communicating their long-term goal more powerfully while remaining focused on the initial part of their business. We have also made it clear that although this work is targeted at investors, a compelling pitch/story has enormous value when recruiting new team members, as well as engaging new partners and customers.
We also spent significant time in groups and one-to-one pitch coaching sessions with the entrepreneurs to prepare them for the Mid-Term Demo day and meetings with investors. The goal was to get the entrepreneurs to simplify their pitches and incorporate elements to make them more memorable. These included storytelling, emotion and humour. Significant time was spent getting some of the entrepreneurs to slow down when giving their pitches and how to engage more efficiently with the audience. One thing all the entrepreneurs learned is that there is no substitute for preparation and practice, practice, practice! It was evident to the audience at the Mid-Term demo day just how dramatically most of the pitches had improved from the beginning of the Kickstart Accelerator.
Now that the pitches have been improved (although the work is ongoing), we have started work on documentation and strategies that entrepreneurs need to obtain meetings with investors. One key part of the documentation is constructing very compelling and concise email summaries that investors will review when deciding whether to take a meeting. Our experience (in setting up 100s of meetings with investors) is that investors typically make a decision in about 45 seconds as they are reading the summary, regarding whether they want to be introduced to an entrepreneur, so we keep the reading time of an email summary to this length. We don’t believe in executive summaries that investors need to open (attachments) and they are typically too long. We think of email summaries in the same way that Amazon thinks of getting a customer to buy a product. The more concise the information and the simpler/fewer the steps to get the investor to say “yes” to an introduction, the better.
Beyond preparing entrepreneurs for engaging with investors, we have been ramping up investor engagement. This has included inviting leading VCs and angels to the Final Demo day, introducing various startups to investors and arranging one-to-one investor/entrepreneur meetings in the next month.