The Pitch: Keys to Winning Over Investors and Others

Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A group of professionals sits at a table and listens to an investor pitch

Most small businesses rely on outside sources of funding, especially when they’re starting up or ramping up to expand their operations. Most turn to private investors, lending groups, or banks to access this funding, which isn’t easily attained. Those who succeed have a clear investor pitch, solid supporting materials, and a plan that describes the past, present, and future state of their business.

Your pitch and the materials you bring to your meetings with lenders and investors should inspire confidence, and they should address the topics that matter most to your audience. This article will help you get started.

 

How should I get started on my investor pitch?

Before working on your pitch or your formal business plan, you should invest time into building a lean business plan. Through this process, you’ll firm up your business concept, identify your assumptions and sources of risk, and create a one-page document you can present to business partners, colleagues, or others to get fast feedback.

Your lean plan should include the following elements:

  • The name of your business
  • Its logo
  • A one-line explanation of your business concept
  • A one-line description of the problem the business aims to solve
  • Your proposed solution
  • A snapshot of your target market, including the size of the market
  • A list of your competitors and how your idea outperforms theirs
  • The funding that’s needed and a one-line description of how you plan to use it
  • The sales channels you’ll use to reach customers
  • The marketing activities you’ll take part in
  • The milestones you plan to hit
  • The ways in which you plan to generate revenue
  • The expenses you’ll realize
  • The members of your team and the roles they plan
  • The partners or resources you’ve established or will need to make your idea a success

 

Your lean plan might look like this:

 

Investor pitch graphic of a plane and globeSolo Traveler

A travel group that brings older singles together for life-changing cultural, social, and celebratory experiences.

The opportunity:

Older singles who don't have a travel companion often opt out of travel experiences.

Our solution: Solo Traveler brings interested travelers together for an inclusive, inspiring adventure.


Market

Target market: 

Competitors:  

Funding needed: 

Single adults, ages 50-65 in the United States (about 16.8 million people)

Travel groups, but none have excursions specifically designed for older, single travelers

$100,000 to hire a tour guide and produce high-quality marketing materials


Our sales and marketing strategy

Sales channels: 

Marketing activities: 

Facebook | Instagram | Online store

Create social media pages and web presence and host giveaways to build a following.


Financial projections

Revenue

2022: $100,000

2023: $127,000

2024: $183,000

Expenses

2022: $90,000

2023: $105,000

2024: $117,000

Profit

2022: $10,000

2023: $22,000

2024: $66,000


Milestones

January 2023

Establish site/social media pages

April 2023

Embark on first trip

October 2023

Build a following of 5,000+


Team

Investor pitch graphic of a social media figure

Finley Fox

Co-founder/CEO

Investor pitch graphic of a social media figure

Cole Atlas

Co-founder/CFO

Investor pitch graphic of a social media figure

David Zane

Co-founder/CMO


Partners

Diamondwood Charter Lines

Americana Air

 

The one-page summary you create, test, and adapt through feedback can serve as the template for your complete business plan, which will be instrumental for winning over investors and attaining other, traditional sources of funding.

 

How do I write my business plan?

In our guide, Write a Business Plan to Finance Your Startup, we explain the specific elements your business plan should contain. You’ll also find formatting advice and other strategies that can help you put together a plan that wins over banks and other investors.

 

How can my business plan help me with my investor pitch?

Your plan will help you home in on the factors that matter most to people who can provide you with the capital you need to start or improve your business’s operations. Often, these factors will include:

A clear, specific, and sizeable market with significant purchasing power and high growth potential

Your competitive edge

How you'll deliver and ensure the quality of your offering

Your strategy to ramp up operations

Your team’s abilities to attain successful outcomes and belief—backed by a personal investment in the venture—in the viability of the business

A proof of concept that demonstrates you’ve tested your idea, product, and price point in your market and your target customers have responded positively

Knowledge of the assumptions you’ve made about your market

Awareness of the real costs of startup

The profit potential of your idea and the extent to which those profits could be realized over a relatively short period of time

What should I say in my investor pitch?

The content of your investor pitch will depend on the amount of time you’re given to present to investors. You should be prepared with a one-minute, five-minute, ten-minute, and longer pitch of your business.

First, in your one-minute investor pitch, you’ll describe the problem your market faces and how your offering will solve it.

Then, in your five-minute investor pitch, you’ll expand your message to include your competitive edge and the unique managerial and technical competencies that will tee you up for success.

In your ten-minute investor pitch, you’ll have the opportunity to tell the story of your business. You’ll describe your solution and business model, define your market, detail your plans for customer acquisition, explain the competitive and financial challenges you face, and describe how injections of capital can help the business realize meaningful financial outcomes. In a ten-minute pitch, many investors will also expect to hear about the successes you’ve already experienced, which can indicate momentum for attaining other key goals.

In a longer investor pitch, you’ll share a slide deck that covers all of the topics in your ten-minute pitch with greater depth and detail. You may use a portion of the time you’re allotted to give a product demonstration or discuss the nuances of your approach. Nuances may include how you’ll eliminate a pain point for your audience or how your business will set itself apart from its competition.

Each version of your investor pitch should refer back to a single, clear statement of what your business does and who it does it for. This statement should help you focus all of your marketing, management, and operational efforts and ensure that you’re focused on pursuing the right goals.

 

What should I include in the slide deck for my investor pitch?

Your slide deck should cover the following key points:

A brief account of a relatable problem you’re attempting to solve

A verifiable market that can be explained with demographics or user personas

A simple solution that’s been tested in your market

A plan for pricing your product in relation to others in the market to generate revenue

Proof of the traction you’ve built with early sales or exposure and what you plan to do next

The specific marketing and sales strategies you’ll use and the ways in which you plan to
navigate your customer acquisition costs

An explanation of why you and your team have what it takes to succeed with this idea

Per-product forecasts of your sales, expenses, and profitability

A competitive analysis that shows alternate solutions and the key differentiators of your offering

An explanation of how much money has been raised and your plans for using future injections of cash
to advance your business

An exit strategy that may include going public, becoming acquired by a specific company,
or another option

What questions should I be ready to answer in my investor pitch?

Every investor meeting is different, and the questions they ask will vary from one meeting to the next. However, you should be prepared to address the following questions:

  • Why haven’t your competitors pursued a similar idea?
  • Why is your team uniquely qualified to take on this challenge?
  • What experiences have you had that can lend to your success?
  • What do your customers spend on rival solutions?
  • Have you had any orders or pre-orders?
  • How would you estimate the valuation of your business as it stands today?
  • What will our investment help you achieve?

 

How can I make my investor pitch a success?

There are a number of strategies you can use to polish your slide deck or improve the other aspects of your presentation. These include:

Keeping slides clean, simple, and easy to read while making sure they can stand alone without
your verbal presentation

Practicing your pitch and review your slide deck extensively before showing up for your meeting

Bringing hard-copy versions of your presentation, business plan, technical documents, executive summary, financials, and market research to overcome any technical issues that could arise

Substantiating all your claims with metrics and verifiable numbers

Working on interjecting humor and stories that’ll engage your audience

Finding opportunities to demonstrate your product or service offering

Allowing time for questions and discussion

Be sure to send a “thank you” email shortly after your meeting and attach a pdf version of your slide deck for your potential investors to review.

 

Who can help me take on this task?

Masterplans is one firm that can help you develop a world-class pitch deck. For more the 18 years, the team has been crafting easy-to-understand value propositions, showing quantifiable market need, highlighting industry trends, and touting industry research to create a presentation-ready pitch. You can learn more about this service and request a quote here.

Projectionhub is another great service that can help you take on the projection piece of your plan. This service offers 50+ industry-specific templates expertly prepared by a CPA for as little as $49. For a limited time, you can save up to 15% on this service with the code OWNERACTIONS (some restrictions apply; contact Projectionhub for details).

 

What's next?

Starting a business is a complicated process, but we have articles and advice that can help you with every action you need to take. Log into your owner’s portal for free, personalized guidance that will help you make your venture a success.

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