Founders Programme Session 5 - The Pitch.

Check out our top tips for perfecting your investment pitch from Matt Bradley, Forward's CIO.

Session 5 of our latest Founders Programme, was the last in this series. In this instalment, we focussed on crafting a killer pitch, hosted by Matt Bradley, Forward's Chief Investment Officer. 

Matt expanded on the takeaways from our last session on building your deck. He covered some core pitch principles and guidelines. Tips on presenting to investors. And the key information you need to get investors excited about your business. 

Check out our key takeaways below👇

Key Takeaways.

🥡 1.  It’s not all about warm introductions.

Most founders don’t have an extensive network of investors to tap into when they first start to think about raising. Often, founders have to start from scratch and dust off the good old sales skills to start opening some doors. 

While warm introductions have a higher conversion rate, cold introductions shouldn’t be overlooked. At Forward, some of the companies we’ve invested in got our attention by sending a cold email. It is the contents of the email that is the most important factor. 

When crafting a cold email to a potential investor, you should think about covering these three things: 

  • A clear and solid understanding of the problem and the solution you are proposing.
  • Your experience or background information to show the investor you are the right person to solve this problem. 
  • Good knowledge about the market and the current solutions available. 

🥡 2.  Make it exciting for your potential investor. 

Know Your Customer (KYC) is a core principle in enterprise sales, and when your “customer” is an investor then the same discipline should be applied. The purpose of your deck is to get your investors excited about your business. So, it’s important you understand the context in which an investor will review your pitch deck or listen to your presentation. Investors are typically extremely busy, juggling multiple priorities with a high number of pitch decks waiting to be reviewed in their inbox. At Forward, our investors spend up to 2 hours a day looking at decks, which means you have only a few minutes to capture their interest. 

When you’ve refined your pitch, it’s important to ask yourself, is this exciting enough? We don’t mean to include GIFs, jokes or go OTT. Remember, a VC investor is thinking about long-term potential returns. They will get excited if think that: 

  • There’s a big problem in the market you are focussing on.
  • There’s a clear gap in which your business can grow. 
  • There’s a big, but realistic, market for you to target. 

🥡 3. Contextualise the problem you are trying to solve.

Investors often have to switch markets and technology multiple times a day. If you want to make an impact when explaining the problem you are trying to solve, it’s important to give as much context as you can. This may seem obvious but you need to remember KYC and think about how to grab an investors attention who’s listening to the 10th pitch deck of the day. We’d suggest framing your problem slide like this: 

  • Who has the problem? 
  • What is the problem? 
  • What data do you have to reinforce your theory? 
  • What do the existing solutions offer?
  • Where is the gap which provides an opportunity for your business?

🥡 4. Amplify the clout of your small team.  

Something we are asked a lot by early-stage founders is whether small teams deter VCs from investing in a business. Investors understand that at this stage you are going to have a small (but hopefully mighty) founding team. A lot of the companies we have invested in had solo founders or very small teams when we first met. Investors want to know who’s on the team and what unique skills or experience they bring to your business. So our advice is to always include a team overview in your pitch, and to think about these key points: 

  • Are you demonstrating the team’s relevant expertise? 
  • Have you included their previous roles and experience?
  • Do they have any specific qualifications which give your business a competitive edge? 
  • Have they built previous successful ventures? 
  • Have you hired people into roles to plug any gaps in your skillset? For example, a CTO if you are a non-technical founder. 

Ann-Marie has almost a decade's worth of experience building and scaling startups in the UK tech industry. From luxury travel and corporate events to robotic process automation, she loves challenger brands with a killer idea. Passionate about ESG initiatives, Ann-Marie has implemented many programmes in her previous roles to support charities tackling homelessness and helping young people and women into careers within the tech sector.

At Forward, Ann-Marie is responsible for our brand and building experiences that founders love, whilst supporting the growing businesses in our portfolio via the Studio.

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