For me, raising investment came in one of the most extreme environments possible ‘ under the glare of a TV camera, and with the prospect of millions of people watching. Raising funds as a start-up business is always daunting ‘ so much hope rests on a few minutes / hours of a pitch, and in so many cases it can mean a make or break. Pitching to five of the greatest names in business on BBC Dragons Den was definitely a baptism of fire, but it has also taught me so much about how to execute a successful pitch, and walk away with the funds.
Some of the tips I will share might seem obvious, but I know from experience how easy it can be to get side-tracked and let your mouth run away without you, so do plan carefully before the big day.
Do you really need the money?
This was an important question for me before we sought investment. I needed to be 100% sure that we really needed the money, at that exact time before I could justify giving away equity. And I think it’s actually a really good starting point for anyone thinking about raising funds.
What do you need the money for?
Another vital question before venturing down the often lengthy road of investment. What specifically do you need the money for? Are you dispersing it strategically to the right areas of the business? So, for us, we needed to focus money on building out our team, investing in new product development and the rest on growth into new markets.
Know your financials
This can be a pitfall for so many entrepreneurs who get it wrong and stumble over the gross and net profits ‘ so I was forewarned and had learned them by heart, I literally knew them inside out. For anyone looking to raise funds, I think this is probably the most key part ‘ an investor wants to be able to trust that you know your business, so learn the numbers.
Is it an attractive proposition for an investor?
Anyone who watches Dragon’s Den regularly will know that the biggest bugbear for the Dragons is entrepreneurs asking for too much money versus the amount of equity. Personally, I was very conscious of this, and wanted to put together an offer that would work not just for Peachylean, but also for the investor(s) coming on board. So, again I would say, know your financials ‘ what is the business genuinely worth TODAY, not potentially in a year or two. An investor, whether on TV or otherwise, wants to see that their money will yield a return ‘ this is the most fundamental part of your pitch, proving that it will.
Believe in yourself and your business
Believe in yourself, and be your true authentic self. Investors want to invest in a business that will make a return and if you can prove this, then you are half way there. BUT, they also want to invest in the person (that’s you) and that person’s passion, belief and commitment. If you believe in the numbers the plan and the execution they can easily believe too, but it all starts with YOU.