Where to Find Startup Investors for Your Business
Every big company started small, even globally dominant ones. It just took one backer who believed in the business plan to make the difference.
Individuals and companies that invest in startups provide valuable financial support, which has become easier to find in recent years.
Venture capital (VC) backers actively choose to invest in innovative companies, in the hope that their investment will be recouped.
Between 2012 and 2017 there was around a 50% increase in funding for startups (Statista).
Some new companies end up being able to call on millions of dollars of venture capital.
So, if you have an idea for a new product or service, it could be worth trying to bag some of this money for your firm.
Below are some of the ways you can try to pitch your business.
It’s better to tap into the market you know. Investors can prefer to back small businesses which are introduced to them by people they know.
If you’re in the fortunate position of knowing a venture capitalist, ask them straight out if they would back a firm offering something similar to your planned product.
Alternatively, try asking friends, family, former or current colleagues whether they know a suitable person.
Tell them about your idea if they don’t know already and see what they think.
Once the initial contact has been made, you will have to put your plan to the potential investor.
That can be nerve wracking but selling your idea is an essential part of gaining financial backing to make it reality.
It may be hard, but pitching your startup allows you to explain your vision to someone new, tweaking your business plan as needed.
Social media isn’t only a way to keep in touch. It’s also a great networking tool.
It can put you in contact with potential backers as well as other companies in the same industry as your startup.
You may be able to approach them in a slightly more relaxed manner, take part in online chats or events with them, make friends and allies,
learn more about the industry or area where you’ll be launching your product or company.
Many investors specialise in a particular sector (retail, creatives, software, travel) and rely on tip offs from contacts or even direct approaches by small business founders looking for investment.
Angel networks and startup platforms
Alongside social media, entrepreneurs should also be looking at specialist platforms dedicated to putting founders and backers in contact.
These sites specialize in particular sectors so new businesses have a better chance of finding a funding match from like minded investors.
Angel investors are also active on these platforms – these are people and companies who provide mentoring, assistance and introductions to other similar businesses and backers.
As well as these ‘angel networks’, the easiest way to bring a startup to the attention of investors is to create a profile on AngelList.
Founders need to be open about the company and its vision, products and employees.
The site puts angels in touch with entrepreneurs; the more information a startup provides, the better their chances of finding a match.
Some small businesses may even end up attracting several investors, if their product is particularly interesting.
The right investor
It’s important to find the right investor for your business. Because many venture capitalists only specialise in certain sectors or types of business,
you would be wasting your (and their) time approaching anyone who does not back your type of company.
Research is key – you should aim to end up with a list of 30-50 individuals and companies whose goals, industry and plans match most closely with your own.
You also need to make sure you know how best to approach each person or firm so that you stand a better chance of catching their attention.
Mentors can help – people you already know, financial or investment specialists, or even influencers.
Keep it simple for starters
When you first contact a potential investor, be brief and eye catching but to the point.
Some financiers are so busy they don’t even have time to read all their emails.
Just like when you send a CV to a potential employer, craft your pitch to each investor’s strengths.
It may take more time, but it is more likely to pay off in the long run.
If they offer you a meeting, you will have more time to explain your idea, but again, keeping your presentation short and snappy is the most effective way to go.
You need to convince them that they should invest in your dreams, but you should also feel that their association and investment will benefit you and your new brand.
Take it on the chin
Just as with job interviews, you’ll lose a few prospective backers before you win one.
You need to have a thick skin when pitching your business hopes to investors, because ‘no’ can seem like their favourite word at times.
Offering a startup money to grow is a risky business, even for the seasoned pros in the investment game.
If you approach 50 venture capitalists, you’re likely to be rejected by 80% or more of them.
The remaining ten funds will probably be split 50-50 on whether they definitely will back you, or maybe would.
You can use their feedback to improve your pitch, have answers to potential questions and work on any weaknesses in your business plan.