In June we sat down with Nordea’s Dealflow Manager Teija Nousiainen, Vendep Capital’s Investment Director Timo Felin and Peter Sazonov, Co-Founder & CEO of the startup Treamer to discuss how to build the perfect elevator pitch and what you can do to stand out in the crowd when it comes to dealflows. In this blog we will share the most valuable findings and advice we got to make sure you don’t end up wasting your opportunity when meeting with your dream investors because, as Teija said, you usually only get one opportunity to get yourself a second meeting.
It’s a trust game
While there may not be one single secret recipe for how to write and give a perfect elevator pitch, both Timo and Peter agree that there’s a few key components to include in your pitch to raise a VC’s interest. Clearly stating what the problem you’re trying to solve is and how you will tap into that market are, of course, both important elements to showcase your ability to grow. However, what many startups tend to forget is the importance of the team behind the idea. That a startup’s core team is more important than the idea itself is often true. No matter how great or unique your solution to a problem is, if you don’t have the right people on board, you’re going to have a tough time bringing that idea to live.
“If there’s something specific in your team that really makes you stand out, I think it’s always worth mentioning, always! Because the team is really what a VC invests in,” says Timo. “As an investor you want to feel that there’s solid expertise and experience in the background, that’s the foundation for building a feeling of trust,” he continues. And as Peter says “It’s kind of like dating, you want to find that chemistry between you and the investor.” “Exactly! I think for me the number one thing when listening to a pitch is that there’s a personal and meaningful connection between the people present in the room,” Timo continues.
Venture Capitalists are obsessed with the market size
Peter, who is no stranger to getting in front of investors and sharing the story behind Treamer, the world’s fastest staffing app, says he has identified four key things investors are looking to learn more about in a pitch: the team, the product, the go-to-market strategy and what the market looks like. “I feel investors are almost obsessed with the market size.” Timo and Teija can’t argue with that. “VCs like myself, we are very numbers driven so bringing in numbers and hard facts to your pitch obviously makes a lot of sense. It’s a way of showing how far you’ve come and grown and when presented correctly, that’s something you usually can’t argue with,” Timo fills in.
While VCs, of course, want to invest in large markets where there’s room for growth, Peter feels that really understanding the market you’re in and clearly defining this in your pitch, is something many startups challenge with. “When you understand your market it allows you to also understand how to become competitive in that market. It’s kind of like sports: if you don’t even know what sport it is that you’re playing, how do you know what equipment and gear to bring with you?” Teija agrees: “It’s important to show that there’s traction for your solution on the market. No doubt we want to hear that there’s people and companies out there that are willing to pay for your product.”
Don’t waste your one opportunity to make a good first impression
Keep it simple. That’s probably a piece of advice most entrepreneurs writing their first pitch have gotten. In the majority of cases, that’s also exactly what you should do. Cut the industry jargon and make sure the average person with no prior knowledge of your industry or product gets it. “I’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing my pitches and when you’ve eventually become bored of yourself, that’s when you know you’re at a level of simplicity that ensures people are going to get,” Peter says. He makes a good point. Before actually starting to talk to investors there’s a lot of work that should go into perfecting your pitch.
“One advice we give our companies is to practice with the investors that perhaps are not your most desirable option. Start off with VCs that maybe even aren’t looking to invest in startups like yours to get feedback on how to structure and perfect your pitch,” Timo says. “It’s also crucial to come in at the right time,” Teija continues, “Usually you only get one opportunity to meet with an investor so timing, of course, also plays an important part.”. And Peter can do nothing but agree “If you’re always waiting for that perfect moment to get out there and give your pitch you’re never going to get the valuable feedback that is going to improve, hopefully not only your pitch, but also your business itself.”
Nordea Investor Speed Dating – Bringing together growth companies and investors
Nordea Investor Speed Dating is a virtual matchmaking event for startups looking for the right investor. Teija and the whole team at Nordea Startup and Growth are kicking off the sessions this fall with a pre-seed/seed event for Finnish startups looking for angel investors followed by events aimed at Nordic startups and scaleups looking for investment.
Do you feel like you’re ready to bring your pitch to life and get matched up with the right investors? Read more about the events here and send in your application by August 27th.