Do you have a SaaS platform or mobile app to pitch to potential investors? With multiple video conferencing and online meeting tools available today, you can reach more investors while still retaining the experience of a face-to-face conversation. This article contains some useful tips that might help you prepare for the entire process of online pitching – from finding investors to delivering your elevator pitch using audio and video.
Find product-market fit first
Apart from selling an idea and getting funding (which is pretty obvious), pitching your software product to potential investors is an excellent exercise in how well you’re prepared to market it to your future audience. It’s a useful reality-check to see if you’ve got your product strategy down to the last detail and if you can get your investors hooked.
Product-market fit is the holy grail for many startups (some even think it’s a close friend of the mythical startup unicorn.) And notfinding it before you launch on the market is one of the reasons startups fail.
What it boils down to is having the right product for the right market. Which seems simple, right? But in reality, it takes a lot of research and preparation, and not just a great app idea – even if it’s a brilliant one.
According to experts, you know when you’vefound a product-market fit, when:
People are buying your product (downloading your app, paying for subscription);
Your revenue is growing (people want to pay for it);
Your company is growing, and you need to hire more people, like customer support;
Media outlets are interested in what you’re doing;
You’re getting acknowledged as an entrepreneur.
And, conversely, you can also tell when a product-market fit is not there (or not there yet):
You’re not getting enough customers;
The people who buy your product complain about it;
And they’re not recommending it to others;
Your app’s not paying for itself, and you’re losing money instead of making it.
So, what do you do to find a product-market fit at an early stage?
Ask yourself some simple questions first. Like:
Does your app solve a problem? (And what is the actual problem?)
Is my product unique in any way? And how?
How will you monetize it?
What’s your goal? Are you using the right measures to achieve it?
To answer these questions, you’ll need to do a few things. The keyword is research.
Research your market, your target group, and your competition. Find out what people need, whether they’re ready to buy it from you, and how much they’re willing to pay.
Define whether your product will fit into the existing landscape. To succeed, you can’t just copy the competition’s concept. You need to bring unique value that no one else does (or not the way you do it.)
Turn that unique value into your brand’s value proposition and your product’s USPs.
Many startups and even seasoned brands don’t do their homework well at this stage. And if you don’t, it can be tough to get your investors interested (not to mention launch your product successfully and get customers).
But if you’ve got this, it’s time to…
Find investors in your niche
The next step is finding the investors in your space who might be interested in investing in your app at an early stage (if they see the value in it – and we’ll talk about how to convince them in a moment). The key in the process is to target the right investors – and here are a few ways to get through to them.
Use your industry contacts. A robust professional network is one of the most valuable tools you can have to succeed as a business owner. And it’s highly likely someone you know knows someone who is connected to an investor network.
So, don’t skip the industry meetups and brunches, and nurture your existing relationships face-to-face. The referrals and endorsements from prominent members of the business community are the easiest ways to get a valuable introduction that usually comes with an initial dose of trust you can build on.
Crowdfunding platforms are increasingly used by startups to pitch their products and find investors, so look into those as well. The platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe don’t need an introduction, but new investment models are becoming more popular all the time, like equity crowdfunding. Look into their tools and consider your options.
Find angel investor networks in your area. Tap into the local communities and make a list of the ones you’d like to get in touch with (or that you’re somehow connected to – as per our first bullet point).
Find other places online where potential investors can hang out like LinkedIn, AngelList, etc.
Look for accelerator programs you could take part in.
And while you’re doing that…
Start generating interest in your product
You should be creating a demand for your product long before it’s launched, even before you start pitching it to potential investors. A good starting point is creating an online community that will be your future source of leads and customers. Get people engaged in conversations, waiting impatiently to test out your app once it’s finally launched.
It’ll make both selling it later and convincing investors easier.
There are multiple things you could do, like:
Create a social media community. Start a Facebook page or group (or both). Get on Instagram and start posting teaser content. If you have the budget, go for ads to reach the right people and build a community faster.
Get into content marketing. Write or talk about the problems your potential customers are facing (if you’ve done your research, you’ll exactly know what they are). Show them helpful ways to solve these problems so they’ll later be able to solve them with your app.
You can start a blog or run webinars and stream them live on Facebook or YouTube to engage people. Let them get to know you, ask questions, and start conversations.
Whatever you do, make sure the content actually brings value and is interesting enough to get people talking.
Build an email list. You can encourage people to get on the waiting list and offer them free content in return. That way you’ll have a list of people who’ll be eager to hear from you about your product in the future (don’t forget to collect the necessary permissions as per local data privacy laws).
If you’re running a crowdfunding campaign, don’t forget to promote it on social media– either with paid ads or free content.
Now back to investors.
Get ready to pitch, aka creating the pitch deck
That’s where a lot of startups fail, again. So, if you want to succeed in pitching, make sure you do it right.
Don’t forget you’re not selling your product at this point. What you’re selling is a benefit (or multiple benefits) for your potential investors. So, make that your priority.
Here’s how you can structure your pitch deck and what to include:
Create a compelling story around the product – don’t just focus on the technicalities and features (which a lot of startups tend to do). Investors hear hundreds or even thousands of pitches, so you need to get their attention with something unique, and not just another product description.
Start with an elevator pitch. A good elevator pitch is not only short but also memorable. If you have a story in mind, use it here.
You can start with a question related to the problem you’re solving and then introduce yourself as the solution. Look for something that could take people by surprise – but don’t forget about clarity. People need to understand what it is you do, so don’t overcomplicate it.
What problems does your app solve? State them very clearly – with market data to back you up if you have it (hint: you should).
How does the app solve those problems?And what’s so special about the way it does it? If you have your USPs nailed down, this should be a piece of cake. Just don’t forget to make them as specific as you can.
What’s your target market and how big is it? Do your research well and include any data you can – your potential investors will definitely be interested in that, calculating the benefits and risks of the investment.
Who is your competition and how you’re planning on beating them? Show your key differentiators and your plan to get ahead of your competitors.
- What’s the business model? Tell them exactly how you plan to monetize your app and what the revenue streams are (like monthly/annual subscriptions, sponsored ads, paid add-ons, in-app purchases, etc.).
What are the use cases? Customer personas could come in handy, and you should have them created in the research phase, by the way.
What’s your go-to-market plan? Describe the exact steps and milestones for your app launch and further development.
What are your goals and KPIs? Again, you should have specific numbers. How much active customers do you plan to acquire in the first quarter? How much revenue? Anything that will show potential investors you’re driven to grow (and their investment is worthwhile).
What are the risks, and what’s your plan to mitigate them? This will be particularly interesting to potential investors. So, make sure you indeed have ways to deal with risks (and what happens if there’s a new competitor or a credit crunch).
How much funding do you need? How will you use the funds? Present the calculations and leave no doubt as to where the money will go.
What’s in it for them? Spell out the benefits for investors and prove their ROI. Get actual numbers and not just promises.
Introduce your team and how people can contact you.
If you can, get a working prototype and a solid app development plan and a product roadmap for the future.
What mistakes should you avoid when it comes to running pitch decks?
“First off, you should include all the essential information in the presentation. It has to be clear, not over-discussed, and well suited for the audience. Many startups trip over the same pitch deck mistakes – underestimating or overestimating their financial calculations.
Also, startups tend to skip the size of their market and their business goals. Sadly, some of them don’t bother to show the differences between them and their competitors. Sometimes even worse – they say that there’s no competition when it comes to their app. In that case, the investor knows that such a startup hasn’t done the homework and analyzed the market.
Another common pitch deck mistake comes to being overly optimistic about the growth dynamics and a profit volume.
Presentation content aside, other mistakes concern the way of presenting and interacting with the audience. If someone is missing a charisma, is chaotic and can’t precisely spell out thoughts, it’s all lost.
Personally, I’m a die-hard fan of pitch-sessions organized by the accelerators and the incubators. It’s the ideal training ground for startups to practice their pitches in front of experts and get some invaluable feedback.”
Agnieszka Cichocka, Strategy and Development Manager @ Starter incubator
Ready? Now pitch it! How about online?
When you have everything in place, pitch your product. If your potential investors are scattered around the globe, use web conferencing services like ClickMeeting to pitch them during an online meeting (and save them, yourself, and your team some precious time).
An additional plus of online pitching is that if your team is distributed, you don’t have to get them all in one place to participate. Letting your potential investors get to know them is another trust-building factor.
What’s also great about it is that you’re making it easy for investors to join when they’re on the move. On business trips, in between meetings, using their phones or tablets.
Apart from running a live online meeting, you can record an on-demand webinar that people can watch anytime. Running on-demand webinars will help you automate the process and prepare investors for the actual talk if they’re interested.
Invite the right people
With platforms like ClickMeeting, you can automate the invitation process, integrate it with other services using Zapier, and automatically promote your live pitching webinar on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Messenger, and remarketing ads targeted at the right crowd.
Present and engage your audience
Remember to structure and rehearse your presentation beforehand. Once investors join your meeting, walk them through your online presentation, and share your screen to show your working app prototype if you have it. If you’re running a live webinar, make time for a Q&A session, so they can ask their questions and get answers in real-time.
You can also use the CTA buttons to redirect your audience to a dedicated page or get them to fill out a form and schedule a video call.
Look like a pro
Use the custom branding feature to impress investors and show them you’re a legitimate, trustworthy company that knows the value of their brand. After all, you’re inviting them to your conference room, this time online.
And we probably don’t have to explain the advantage of a custom-branded online conference room over a free online meeting that gets automatically cut off after 30 minutes, leaving your audience unimpressed (at least not in the right way). Right?
If you want to see a real-life example, here’s how one filming studio got 90% of their online meeting attendees to invest in their company.
Some pitching tips
Don’t try to sell so much. Be authentic and show the actual benefits of your idea. Investors are real people, so talk to them like they deserve it.
Don’t pitch the product – pitch the investment. Your investors need to know you have product-market fit, but they’re not the potential buyers. They need to know their ROI.
Be specific. Avoid buzzwords (they’re not making you sound smart), use numbers, dates, amounts, and real-life situations.
What investors value the most in pitch presentations?
“Angel investors fall for clear and concise presentations. Many of them pay the most attention to the financial side of the project, and the team – because the app idea alone is only a fraction of potential success. To achieve substantial business results, a knowledgeable, experienced, and motivated team is the key.
The process of attracting an investor is pretty much the same as selling a product to a customer. Nobody will want to buy it if it turns out that you’re not entirely prepared and confident about the highest quality you offer.
Moreover, pitching investors is close to storytelling. Currently, pitch decks are not only about the numbers – it’s about a story that is worth their time, and that can convince VCs to invest money in your business.
Last, the way you talk. Investors will stop listening to you if you mumble or tripping over your sentences. Best public speaking skills will undoubtedly pay off.”
Agnieszka Cichocka, Strategy and Development Manager @ Starter incubator
Got them to invest? Now keep them in the loop
Videoconferencing is also a great tool to inform your investors (especially if you’ve managed to get international investors) about reached milestones, new product releases, and so on. Again, using on-demand webinars, you won’t have to meet with them online individually but spread the word and then let them reach out with questions afterward.
You don’t have to limit yourself to local investors. Using tools like video conferencing can save you tons of time in the process of pitching investors. If you do it right, you can impress them and earn their trust even if they’re thousands of miles away.
So good luck pitching your app! Got successful stories you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.