Start-up: Learn How to Pitch your idea to investors

I attended on 12th June 2017 a presentation and workshop on how to pitch an idea for entrepreneurs. Not only have I learnt a great deal but also the host Adeo Ressi from Founder Institute made everyone feel comfortable by joking all the time!😂

idea pitch

The Founder Institute is a global idea-stage accelerator and startup launch program helping entrepreneurs ‘with the structure, training, mentor support, and global network needed to start an enduring company’: http://fi.co/users/1329971/edit

So, Adeo Ressi started his talk by stating the five most important rules to follow when pitching your idea to potential investors:

  1. Show confidence. This is valid for any kind of enterprises you want to launch!
  2. Don’t make excuses for not pitching your ideas!
  3. Avoid superlatives/adjectives
  4. Use data, in other terms, be factual. Back up your ideas by showing you know your audience needs (demographics, size, geolocation…)
  5. End strong by stating clearly what your ask is! Why not leave with a slogan, for example.

He started with the basics, i.e the opening line you need to master for each of your pitch:

‘My company is [name], is developing [a defined offering], to help [a target audience] [solve a problem with the secret sauce].

It sounds easier than it is, so keep in mind these further tips when you are working on your opening line:

  • Be prepared to bring up a defined offering to the table, keep it clear (articulate, especially your company name!) and short!
  • You also need to specify your audience (age group, education level…) and what they truly want!
  • Never lie but don’t tell the whole truth easier. Remember the point about confidence?😉

Then, Adeo went into more general tips on how to get a higher visibility and brand awareness. He advised all entrepreneurs to find a prominent lead by doing research to figure out who might need your deal and by exploiting your networking opportunities through the following sites:

  • AngelList
  • Linkedin
  • CrunchBase.

Remember that your chosen lead must have time, money and expertise to help you out. You may need to repeat the pitching process up to 60 times to get one lead.

Now, let’s enter into the nitty-gritty of the pitching process:

  1. Meet as many people as you can
  2. Send invitations for coffee
  3. Keep updated with news
  4. Meet potential leads at online and offline events
  5. Send invitations to longer meetings once you have broken the ice with one lead
  6. Ask for funding
  7. News update again.

Remember not to over-sell yourself and that the goal of each meeting is to get to the next meeting. You need to build relationship and trust.

Prepare a one-page agreement with those who have shown interest in investing. Remember, the real investor will be the one you come towards to and pitch your idea to, and not the other way around!

When approaching someone about to invest in your company, ask for a little less than you wanted and explicitly ask if they want to be your adviser and lead the round.

When pitching, think about what the focus of your offer/service/product is on:

  1. A vision
  2. Problems/Solutions
  3. Traction/Interest (eg raise money for a business milestone that generates revenue).

Finally,  according to Adeo Rossi, the hardest business areas to pitch for, as investors are harder to convince to invest in due to the high risks are Travel, Music, Sports, Wine.😓 So, keep that in mind and find a complementary service that could add additional value!

 

Funding and Financial Sustainability for Non-Profit Organisations in Ireland

I attended an event advertised on Facebook and organised by Bluefire Dublin called ‘Igniting Change: Funding & Financial Sustainability‘ on Thursday 29th June 2017.

The event was aimed at voluntary and community organisation, social-enterprises, individual artists or community-based project managers, and small-medium NGO’s.

financial sustainability

Bluefire organises ‘igniting change series’ every last Thursday of each month: http://bluefiredublin.ie/our-programmes/igniting-change/

financial sustainability
The guest speakers at the event were a mix of social entrepreneurs and funding bodies:

• Ian Oliver (far right on the picture) from Centre for Creative Practices
• Eoghan Ryan (far left in the picture) from Social Innovation Fund Ireland
• Hazel Hill (right next to Eoghan) from The Community Foundation for Ireland
• Naomi Murphy (left next to Ian) from Connect the Dots

The purpose was for attendees:

  • to be aware of what is required to start up a successful business and
  • to know how to get grants from organisations supporting social entrepreneurs.

It started with a talk from each speaker, followed by a workshop and a networking session.

1. Eoghan from Social Innovation Fund Ireland:

Before launching Social Innovation Fund, he founded his own not-for-profit, Reimagine Cork to tackle issues around homelessness in Cork. Understanding the needs for Not-for-Profits, he felt he could help entrepreneurs best and joined Social Innovation Fund.

The company’s mission is to provide both funding and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs. It has also partnered with the government and every given Euro by SIFI is matched by the government.

Eoghan’s first advice was to think about ‘why’ you want to start up a company and why his company would fund you. He also strongly recommends:

  • having a clear plan in place,
  • having a good value proposition,
  • showing confidence
  • having good management skills.

When filling forms to apply for funding, keep it simple and answer the asked questions.

2. Hazel Hill, Marketing Executive and Programme Leader at The Community Foundation for Ireland:

Her organisation offers both open grants and private grants. The latter ones are given on a project basis with an end date. The organisation offers funds for mergers (shared between teams) to highlight the importance of collaboration and partnership between organisations.

You will be asked about what will happen at the end of the project to gauge how sustainable your business model is.

Her first advice was to not manipulate your core mission value (reason for existing) to get funding. Instead, only apply to relevant grants that fit your organisation. She also advised to:

  • have a clear mission statement,
  • document your research by backing up your project with analytical reports,
  • listen to your community/audiences’ needs,
  • take any constructive feedback on board
  • understand the impact your company will have.

3. Naomi AND MERISSA from Connecting the Dots, a start-up focusing on the community engagement in Dublin: 

Their company started off when there were many unoccupied vacancies in Dublin during the crisis by putting on events with artists, engineers, researchers. Over the time, they worked on a process for events’ organisation, i.e on improving the engagement with attendees, corporate donors.

Naomi’s advice was to volunteer for different organisations and network that way before you start up. She has been helping a lot at ‘Happenings’ organisation.

It is also important to speed up processes with a technology enabler. They are currently working on a software service (SAAS) application (transferring processes online for co-working events), in order to gain time and increase income streams and viability.

4. Ian AND his wife Monica from Center for Creative Practices, a company helping creative artists to come up with a more sustainable model:

His first advice was to start with a small plan before building a full-scale model and revisit this plan when necessary.

Instead of going through a lengthy business plan, they worked on a one-page business model. It detailed their business model and value proposition:

  • the company’s purpose,
  • what problem it is trying to resolve and,
  • the solution offered.

His first business model focused on having a cash projection, i.e ticket prices’ sales and getting people to utilise the space to generate further money. He feels it is best not to be over-reliant on grants for the day-to-day running of the business.

5. participants needing help on setting up their organisations, PLEASE get in touch with the following bodies: