How to prepare for a meeting with an investor (August 17, 2016)

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When founders prepare for an investor meeting , their major focus is on trying to convince the investor to give them money quickly. I think this is what sometimes causes them problems , because the investor can sense your desperation . Also, when you are running out of money, your tension and anxiety to secure a financial lifeline means you may not do a good job at pitching.

Founders should change the way they approach the meeting. The truth is that you can’t control whether the investor will give you money or not, because this is dependent upon multiple factors , some of which are outside his control as well.  Even if he likes you, he may not be able to fund you, for various reasons. You may be in a domain which is not in his sweet spot; or he may have already invested all the money he has raised; or because he is busy raising funds himself for his next fund, as a result of which he may have taken a holiday from signing checks for a few months.

All this is completely out of your control , and there’s no point in worrying about things which you cannot influence, is there?

The only thing which you can control is your own presentation. This is your chance to wow the funder, and you should prepare for your meeting with a different intention .

The question you should ask yourself is – What value can I add to the investor’s life ? What can I tell him which he doesn’t already know?

This tack is likely to be far more helpful for multiple reasons. For one, it keeps you in control of the situation, so you are less nervous – after all, this is your area of expertise !  Also, since you are now trying to help the investor to become a little bit smarter about your domain , you will no longer feel the need to grovel for funds !

You goal should be to provide at least one counter-intuitive insight to the funder – something which you have learned the hard way, which most other people don’t know. It’s also useful to highlight what most other people think is true, but which you know is false, because on your personal experience.  This will help you earn the respect of the investor , because he can see you are well-informed.  This tactic will also help you to stand out from the hundreds of other pitches he is subjected to.

In any case, no investor is going to sign a check in one meeting. Most of them will say, “Fine, come back again, tell us more.” If you can make him smarter as a result of your first meeting , he’s much more inclined to want to continue to engage with you .

It takes time to build trust , and your goal in your first meeting should be simple – to get invited to go back again and to provide more information. It’s a slow process , and I know when you want money , you want it quickly. However, it’s not something which you can hurry, and if you do it slowly  and steadily, you’re far more likely to succeed.

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