A Startup's Guide to Seeking Investments

A Startup's Guide to Seeking Investments

By Wiss (520 words)
Posted in Emerging Companies on October 27, 2015

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By Matt Barbieri

With every investment deal comes risks and questions waiting to be answered. If you are seeking investments, it is important you are as prepared as possible when it comes time to present your case. The following recommendations will increase confidence, but more importantly, make sure you are prepared for anything investors throw at you. 

Be prepared to discuss the numbers. To an investor, your story matters, but ultimately every investment boils down to the numbers. Do they make sense? Can you support the claims you are making about your sales, cash flows, etc.? Prep answers to challenge questions such as: How do you know sales will be at these levels? How did you come up with your margin? Did you factor in X, Y and Z? How does your competition price their product? By anticipating questions like these, you will be best prepared for their inquiries. Be sure that you make a direct ask to the investor, so that all parties are clear on the terms of the transaction. For example, “We need $X million to provide Z within a timeframe of A”. In return you will get…” 

Be ready to discuss your financials. This means discussing financials historically and into the future. When discussing projected financials, be sure to answer the question “when will I get my money back?” You must be able to prove that you know when and how the investor will get their money back to ensure it will be a good idea to invest. 

Say exactly what you need to say. Make sure that only what is most important and necessary makes it onto your deck. We have seen decks as short as 3 slides get the job done. Address your idea, the why, and how the investor will get paid back- anything else you add is considered noise and will not add value to your pitch. Stating the problem you are solving in a concise manner on the first slide is extremely important. Failure to do so will result in a loss of interest in your presentation. 

Why you? State the reason you are the number one choice to invest in. If an investor has millions to put into companies, why is yours the best place for investment? Don’t just explain what you do - it can be redundant and boring. Explain why you do it. 

Here are some of the items you should start to gather in order to be best prepared for his request list. It will vary based on each situation, but is enough to get you started. 

  • Retrieve financial statements for most recent periods, and historically as far back as you can go.
  • Tax returns for the company for the last 3 years (if applicable).
  • Any long-term contracts you have (employment, leases, etc).
  • Projected financials by product. Get them as granular as you can make them. Be able to support your assumptions.
Matt Barbieri is the Partner in Charge of the Technology & Life Sciences Group as well as the New Media Group. He works with many start-up companies and advises them on various investment questions and issues. Reach Matt at mbarbieri@wiss.com or 973.994.9400.

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