5 tips for pitching to an investor

Raising early stage investment is difficult, there is no doubt about that.  In Silicon Valley one in every 100 business plans read by a VC receives investment.  For a start-up looking to raise investment, this must be quite a scary statistic.

NII_icons_RGB-01Similarly, we have received hundreds of applications for investment and only a small percentage meet our interest – 4% to be exact!  Since launching Nesta Impact Investments in November 2012 we have read approximately 300 business plans, probably met with about 25% of these, and pitched 12 investment opportunities to our investment committee.

So with only a 1-4% chance of securing investment and the pitch being your way in (no pressure!), we thought we would pull together our top 5 tips for pitching to an investor:

  • Keep it simple.  Try to present your venture in a clear and concise way.  The next step is for us to pitch the company on your behalf – so make it easy for us.
  • In early stage investments we are backing people to deliver on their plan.  Some ventures we look at don’t have a track record – but the founders will.  Tell us about you and your co-founders upfront – don’t leave this till the last slide.
  • Show the passion for what you’re doing.  If you’re not excited about it, the chances are we won’t be either.  Explain the need for the product you are building and why it will exist far into the future.
  • Be concise.  We want to hear your pitch and have time for the questions and answers that will really help us understand you and your business.  If you have a one hour meeting then a 15-20 minute pitch is ideal, a pitch that lasts 30-45 minutes will limit the time we have – and probably our concentration span.
  • Do your homework.  Know what the investor you are pitching to is looking for and tailor your pitch.  As an impact investor we prioritize social impact, so we look for compelling pitches that convince us not only that an entrepreneur can create a thriving business but also that he or she can transform millions of lives.

If you are an entrepreneur with a growing venture that meets our investment criteria, then please send us your proposal – impactinvesting@nesta.org.uk


By Katie Mountain - Nesta Impact Investments