As a startup in Singapore, you might dream of striking the lottery with four lucky numbers to get your business up and running. Since that’s not usually possible, you need to learn to impress investors and secure funding to get things up and running.
Setting up in-person business meetings now can be tricky since many startups work remotely and have staff placed all over the world. Today’s business environment also favours virtual meetings over physical ones. You might not locate your investors in the same region, and even if they are, the convenience of dialling into a virtual meeting means that many prefer jumping on a virtual call to hear your startup pitch.
While most of us have got extremely familiar with virtual meetings in the past two years, the relaxed, conversational setting in a face to face meeting does not translate well virtually. Just think of the awkward nodding and the hand gestures you make to indicate when someone is on mute. Still, a startup’s got to do what a startup got to do.
So to help you get started on bringing the moolah in, we’ve put together five ways you can impress your investors when you meet them on a virtual call.
Tip 1: It’s all about the story
While the pitch is essential whether you meet your investors in person or remotely, it becomes even more important when you host a meeting virtually.
The story is a sequential narrative that summarises all the main reasons an investor should invest in your startup.
It’s not about your fancy slides or animations. Your story must be compelling enough to sell your idea to your investors. In a guest blog on Economic Development Board, Mr Patrick Veron, Senior Partner at Activia Consulting, Singapore, emphasises that startups must focus on selling value. It’s not about stating facts.
Think about how you can create a compelling story that will evoke an emotional response from your viewers at specific points. You can find out more from Rizwan Virk, the founder of Play Labs @ MIT, author of several entrepreneurship books and an investor himself. He outlines a basic story template to get your pitch heard in his blog.
Tip 2: Keep the initial meeting short and sharp
As venture capitalist(VC) investors meet many people, they want answers sharp and fast. Since Zoom meetings have become the de facto for many work meetings, they can be zoomed out like the rest of us.
In this interview with VC investors, they pointed out that an initial meeting where the founder promises a pitch no longer than 30 minutes is the key to keeping them interested.
A short meeting that promises a product demo is the best introduction. This makes a lot of sense since pre-Covid interview sessions will have required more than 30 minutes, factoring in commute time and social niceties like getting coffee.
But now that so many people work remotely, investors prefer to hear a quick short introduction before deciding whether to move forward with your business.
Therefore, you need to become the best salesperson and hype up your product fast to get an investor’s attention.
Tip 3: Get prepared.
If you manage to secure a meeting with your investors, you need to be prepared.
Remember to memorise your key numbers since interested investors will ask many probing questions. You will need to quote numbers at the snap of your fingers.
Great CEOs will memorise the sales and headcount targets in the next 12 months and obsess over the business metrics. As a startup entrepreneur, if you can model such behaviour, you show your investors that you are ready to take your business to a new height.
Tip 4: Know your investors as well as you can – and let them know you too!
According to Investopedia, these are some of the criteria that VC investors look to decide if they want to work with you:
- Solid Management
- Size of the Market
- Great Product With Competitive Edge
- Assessment of Risks
With all of that information in mind, it’s a lot to process. Therefore, Jason Edwards, investor and founder of the startup intelligence platform VentureCap Insights, recommends looking for investors apart from VC firms and choosing investors interested in forging a strong relationship with you as your startup develops. He shares his experience as an investor in January Capital, a Singapore-Based VC firm.
Charles Hudson of US-based Precursor Ventures also advises that when startups fundraise, they need to find a firm with the same business characteristics as their startup.
Otherwise, it leads to a lot of wasted time and energy. Since investors are taking on the risk of investing in your business, it’s easier if they understand your business model and can critically assess whether you are a right fit for their dollars.
All of these are difficult when the VC does not understand your startup nor are interested in cultivating a relationship. After the initial round of pitching, they might not consider moving forward with your firm.
This ‘getting to know you’ stage is mutual – while you research your investor, you also want to get your foot in the door by getting them to know you first. Many VCs recommend sending a deck of pitch slides that introduces your firm and your team. This method helps your potential investors get insight into your business idea and sets the ground for pitching when you finally meet them online.
Tip 5: In a Zoom meeting, your setup matters
Since you are not meeting your investors face to face, your investors do not have a reference point for your mannerisms. If you are not meeting face to face, your eyes can wander easily in person or on camera.
Here are more points that you should note when going through your presentation on a conference call:
- Reveal the information and go through the slides.
- Sit up straight, close to your computer and ensure that your face and shoulders are visible. This projects a confident image.
- Make sure you are well lit so investors can see your face.
- Keep your background clear. Investors want to see you. An unnatural background such as a picture can be distracting.
Remote pitching takes away the more minor details that people can use to judge a person, such as a founder’s energy or how they walk into a room. Investors will take note of other details, such as your video background and even the quality of your speech. Some investors may like to make small talk before the presentation.
So taking time to set up your conference call environment is essential so that when you start your video pitch, you present a confident front. Any delay or interruption can distract your investor.
Overall, you need to ensure that you hold your introductory pitch in a quiet and professional setting with good Wifi connectivity. Better still, if this place is a remote working space, you can also host meetings with local investors. We recommend Found8 at Tanjong Pagar.
This elevated space on the 23rd story is spread across two floors in the heart of the Central Business District area and has spectacular sea views. You can rent a private office for 2 or 4 pax, which is perfect for those who are pitching as a team.
If your investors are located nearby, a face to face meeting in Found8 will also impress them as the polished setup of the space makes you look competent and efficient. Our quick check on the Internet found many VC firms just around the corner from Found8!
Found8 has also compiled a comprehensive resource of information to support startups in Singapore. All this information is indicative that when you work in an environment like that, you are always well supported as a startup.
As a startup, you’ll want to maximise all the opportunities you can get when fundraising for your venture. A conducive remote working space is important for virtual calls and a brainstorming area for your team. Find these workplaces easily with the Deskimo app.
Read our blog and download the app to check out all our available co-working spaces today!