How do I go about finding a 'closer' to help pitch investors?


2

I don't understand the funding/investment landscape. If I want to bring someone in to help me pitch angel investors and/or VC's:

  • Where would I go about finding them?
  • What questions do I ask to qualify if they're who I want?
  • How do I pay them (fixed fee or percentage based on contingency)?

Funding

asked Sep 15 '11 at 06:37
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Javid Jamae
347 points
  • investors are not going to be interested in seeing a hired gun. More likely it will be a negative against you. – Tim J 8 years ago

6 Answers


3

Investors do care about the team that they are investing in. They want to have confidence that the individuals they are entrusting their money in have the capacity to implement the plan.

It is for this reason that you do not want to hire someone to be your spokesperson with prospective investors. They want to hear from the "C"-team. They want to hear that the "CEO" understand the business and is open to counsel, advice and suggestions from the investors. They want to hear that the "CFO" has a command of the numbers and will restrain unnecessary spending of their money of non-mission critical items. They want to see a "CTO" with an understanding that problems will happen, things take more time and more money, and that it will never work exactly as planned.

Most important they want to see how you interact, support each other, defer to each other. They want to make sure that their money will be spent growing the business -- not fueling ego or political battles between founders.

A "well spoken" face will not meet that need.

A well prepared and well practice presentation appropriately supported by professional materials will. The degree to which your current team needs professional support to ensure they are well prepared and well practices with appropriate materials then it is entirely appropriate to engage professionals in support.

Individuals with a track record of success presenting to investors can be invaluable in assisting you to tighten your message.

  • Someone with a technology background may be able to help you translate inward-facing information outward.
  • Someone with presentation skills may help you to project the professional image your project deserves.
  • Someone with a speech or presentation writting experience may help you to frame your answers to questions in a manner that highlights your endeavor's strengths.
  • Someone with current experience in the investor market may help you to craft your message to personalize your message to the particular person you are meeting.
  • Someone with marketing skill may be able to help you develop support materials which play to your strengths and offset weaknesses.
  • Someone with sales experience can polish your ability to build level of agreement and make the ask at the right time.

When our team works with companies in accelerated growth initiatives where presentation to investors is a fundamental component of the strategy we spend considerable time working with the team to ensure they are presenting in the strongest possible way. the very process often tightens the business play, focuses the team on the core value proposition, and creates the space where the founder can stop talking about what might happen 5-10-150 years from now and limit their presentation to what will be achieved right now with the money which is being requested.

Be assured though, regardeless of how you present, that when you find an investor who genuinely likes the proposition that you are presenting -- they will work with you to put together a team they feel comfortable. Remember even the original investors in Google added their own CEO to the team!

answered Sep 15 '11 at 12:57
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Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points

1

I'm not sure if you are in the Valley, or if there are just TONS of VC's throwing money around where you are at. But, in general this would not be a very good idea.

If it's your idea, you are the best person to pitch it. Investors invest in people first and ideas 2nd. If they don't have faith in the leader of the project/idea they won't even think about investing no matter how great the idea.

Don't think about bringing in a hired gun to pitch.. if your idea is brilliant but you aren't that good of a people person than you would want to PARTNER with someone who is good at networking, sales, building rapport, maybe even has experience running a startup. But, not someone who just 'pitches'.

answered Sep 15 '11 at 08:50
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Ryan Doom
5,472 points

1

You're wise to look for help from someone with relevant experience. Helping you to shape your pitch and to understand the feedback you get is golden. I know teams who have wasted a lot of time and emotional energy because they misinterpreted a polite 'no' as definite interest.

The right person, in my opinion, probably isn't someone who claims to be a professional fund-raiser. It's someone in your space - someone you'd like to see on your advisory board, for instance, or an experienced CFO who you'd like on board post funding, or a consultant who is helping you develop your strategy. Whether, when, how and how much you pay them for their help is a good question with no single, simple answer.

So look at your established network, and start reaching out to new people. Put the explicit point of helping get funding one step back, behind the real questions - does our idea make sense? What are the risks? Where's the validation? How could we bootstrap this? What would we do differently if we had more cash in the bank?

Exploring those questions will bring you to the people you want. And either you'll hone your pitch and your pitching skills along the way, or you'll draw someone into your circle who can both add value to your business and also help create, refine or lead the investor pitch.

answered Sep 16 '11 at 00:24
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Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • +1 for "misinterpreted a polite "no" as definite interest. Been there. Done that! :) – Joseph Barisonzi 8 years ago

0

You could always try VCMentor.com. You can talk to VC's and they might be able to help you answer your questions and more questions. Check it out.

answered Dec 23 '11 at 07:37
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Khalid Abuhakmeh
101 points

0

Personally, I agree with the first poster. YOU are the best person to sell them on your idea. The person you hire will not have the passion when (s)he is telling your story, that you most likely will and there is no substitute for that as far as pitching goes. In addition, if you're serious about building up your startup into a really big company someday, it behooves you to have go get some of that experience now anyway. Go read a book like "Venture Deals" by Brad Feld - you'll be better off for it and so will your startup.

answered Sep 15 '11 at 12:06
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User18524
31 points

-1

I think it'd be better to concentrate on making your product as good as it can be, rather than wasting time and energy on a hired gun.

Of course, IMHO, YMMV, etc.

answered Sep 15 '11 at 19:48
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Steve Jones
3,239 points
  • Making your product better is completely orthogonal to the question on finding help (or not) to raise money. Your answer makes no sense and doesn't address the question at all. – Javid Jamae 8 years ago

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