Here are three things investors look for when deciding when to fund startups:
1. Team and Product Validation with Traction
A few things that get investors really excited about an early stage startup is when the team can show that they have real customers or a real working product traction. Investors really like knowing that the team knows what they are doing and that they can build something. Can you show that what you’re doing is valuable? When Drew Volpe showed their potential investors that Nielsen was one of their customers, they were on board. Show real, actionable progress when meeting with investors and you are bound to leave an impression.
2. Show Growth, Opportunity, and Passion But Don’t Oversell It.
Entrepreneurs have a vision and passion. When the entrepreneur can communicate a vision to customers and investors, you’re going to be a lot more successful. Talk about big opportunity with a lot of passion and investors will gravitate towards that.
Be careful not to oversell that passion though! It’s too easy when building a startup to be overly enthusiastic about something that you created and really believe in and the temptation to desperately oversell your product in the hopes of getting more money is high. However, investors have been in the business for many years and in the words of Chris Howard, Investors can easily see through crap. Focus on your strengths and remain candid when pitching your company; investors will appreciate that.
3. Stay Intimate
Kit Hickey noted that when Ministry of Supply first started trying to gain investor support, they would bring their whole founding team in. This tended to intimidate the investors and left a bad impression. The best way to get the most traction with an investor is to stay intimate and send one or two high-level members of your team to the meeting. This will show investors that you care about their input on a personal level and will make them more likely to be enthusiastic about your company.