A few weeks back we talked about getting investor ready and how our friend and client Alan Schuler of DevOne Sports found himself centre stage in a pitch competition called Jump Start Challenge. This is a event organized by Accelerate Okanagan in Kelowna, BC to support technology companies and entrepreneurs who are seeking investment to finance business growth. It provides participants with hands-on training on how to become "investor ready" and best present their ideas to the investment community.
As you will no doubt recall the presentation on that occasion went down a storm and Alan made it through to the next stage of the getting-pitch-ready process. Now, we all know that having a great investment pitch is critical for anyone trying to raise capital and this competition allows time to practice, refine and perfect the pitch based on feedback from a panel of business mentors, coaches and seasoned investors. So, when the moment comes for you to pitch your idea or business to an investor, you will be ready.
Over the last eight weeks Alan has spent time in various workshops, coaching sessions, training and mentorship days really refining his pitch and readying himself to go out to the market and pitch the DevOne story to the investor community. And that’s exactly the opportunity he had earlier this week when he was one of four finalists selected to pitch at the finals of the 2014 Jump Start Challenge. With about 80 people gathered in the room the four finalist gave their pitches.
I spoke with Alan before he went on stage and asked him how things had changed for him over the previous few weeks. “All this coaching and mentorship has made me realize just how much effort needs to go into conveying a clear and concise message to any interested parties” said Alan. “It's also vital to make sure that you give the right message to the right audience and if you're asking for money make it quite clear that you are asking for money; if you're asking for referrals make it quite clear you’re asking for referrals. This whole program has been a bit of a revelation to me really and has certainly opened my eyes and allowed me to understand what prospective investors are looking for when I'm up there talking to them”.
So, how did the new and improved version of Alan’s presentation go down? Well, as before, we loved it and, again, so did the panel of judges and come the end of the evening Alan’s DevOne Sports project came away as the overall winner. So what happens next? “It's now all about using the skills and techniques I've been taught to get out there and raise the required funding for the DevOne project”, said Alan. “It's great, because at this early stage I actually have paying customers and that is the kind of thing potential investors love to hear about”. Alan will now spend more time working with his advisors and mentors through the Accelerate Okanagan program and will get to pitch to some of the angel and investor groups using his newly honed skills.
Pitching for money is a daunting prospect for most of us at any time and as we always say if you're thinking about going down this route the best advice is to seek some professional help and get some tips from those in the know. Alan is lucky in that he has an existing product with paying customers but for many people in this situation they are at a pre-revenue stage and need funding to take them to the next level.
We often talk about prototyping and market validation so when you go to make a pitch, have some firm research results and even better still, if you don’t have an existing product with paying customers, take with you a working prototype of your product with which you can explain, illustrate and demonstrate your idea.We love working with start-up businesses and if you would like to have a chat with us about market validation or getting yourself a working prototype we would be delighted to hear from you.