Over the weekend I was asked what advice I’d give to founders of a startup seeking angel investment. Here’s my list.
- First, make sure you really want angel investment. Read 10 good reasons not to seek investors for your startup. Take it to heart. If you don’t need investment, really, you are better off without it. And also, read startup sweet spot.
- If you do, then next, make sure your business is a good investment. Read up on what makes a business a good investment. It’s about the team, the growth potential, ability to scale, traction, etc. Many great businesses are not good investments. Read Do you have what investors want and angel investment self assessment.
- Wait until you’re ready. Don’t seek investors before you have a team in place, milestones met, numbers to show, good evidence of traction and validation. Investors invest in businesses, not plans, and definitely not ideas. Sometimes they invest in people, like known startup successes with great track records; but if you were one of those, you’d know it.
- Know the basics. Understand the normal process. Research investors near you, interested in your industry, and target specific people and groups. Never spread cold emails all over the map.
- Investors invest in your business, not your pitch. What they buy into is the business, the facts, the achievements; not the pitching. If you don’t have milestones met, progress made, concrete numbers to show, then don’t waste your time. You need an intro or profile or summary first, and then a pitch, and, if they are still interested, a business plan for due diligence. But don’t ever mistake the plan, profile, and pitch for what matters. You tell them about the business.
- Do a lean business plan first, before the profiles, before the pitch. It’s for you, not the investors. It’s just bullet points, milestones, metrics, and projections. You need to know how much you need, and what you’re going to spend it on, before you start. Review it and revise it. A pitch without a plan is like a movie filmed without a screenplay. Don’t sweat the big plan with all the summaries and descriptions, at least not at first. Maybe not ever. But have a plan, keep it fresh, review and revise often.
(Note: I posted this first as an answer to a Quora question.)