Aim for personality over perfection to attract startup investment

For startups, the idea of pitching to industry leaders and investors is a daunting prospect. Shows like Dragons’ Den present investment pitches as a now-or-never moment – you get one shot and either they like it or they don’t.

In reality, getting startup investment is much more about the connections you can make. Forget dazzling an unknown investor and start thinking about how you can build a relationship in the long term.

At The Pitch 2018, we sat down with three successful entrepreneurs and investors to get their thoughts on networking, investor meetings and nailing pitch personality.

Establish a relationship early

Whether you’re looking for money, clients or increased profile, you have to put yourself out there. For Mehjabeen Patrick, CFO of Creative England, it’s important to be tactful about building your network.

“Before you start pitching, try and establish a relationship. Arrange a meeting or coffee date, and come prepared with something to hook your contact in – ask for their input on a project you’re working on or see if they can contribute to a piece of content you’ve got planned.

“Don’t wait until you have three or six months to raise money either. Find your contacts early on, even if you’re not ready to raise or pitch for another six months.”

Don’t worry if your pitch isn’t perfect

Mark Doleman, partner lead at Deloitte, has sat through plenty of pitches. The one that stands out is a business owner who got his numbers wrong – but they invested in him anyway.

“By the end of his pitch, we all absolutely adored the guy,” Doleman says. “His true personality came out, and we invested in him. He’s our best investment and it’s a multi-million turnover business now.

“It’s about you and your personality, and getting that across. Don’t get too caught up in it, make sure you can stand behind your idea and the world’s your oyster.”

Make use of your resources

When Chieu Cao, co-founder of Perkbox, first started up, he tackled tough investor questions by trusting his resources.

“As a business owner, your job is to manage resources,” Cao says. “If you’re really good at managing resources, you’ll be successful. If I don’t know the answer, I know someone in my team who will. Don’t try and predict everything and be perfect at answering every question.”

It’s also crucial to be passionate about your business – and show it.

“I know I’ll get it done and I know I’ll find a way. I believe in my mission so much that it can’t go wrong,” Cao added.

Watch our full panel discussion on startup investment below.


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Chris Goodfellow sits down with
Mehjabeen Patrick, Chieu Cao and Mark Doleman at The Pitch 2018

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Kat Haylock
Kat is the lead writer at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch. She’s worked with small businesses for the last six years, championing Britain’s startup scene and anyone who has snacks.

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