4 Tips to Nail an Investor Meeting

Author: Matt Clifford
Posted: 12 January, 2023

Six months ago, some of the world’s most exceptional people joined our programme. This week, those who have since met their co-founder and launched a company are meeting the Entrepreneur First Investment Committee. They’ll be pitching their companies to our panel for further funding for their next stage of growth. 

Many of them will go on to raise from some of the world’s top investors. It’s a competitive, nerve-wracking process that requires a solid amount of preparation.

Here’s four things to consider before you go into your first investor meeting:

1. Know your Edge, and show that you’re the right people to build this particular company.

Your Edge is what gives you the right to win in a particular area. It’s your unfair advantage in solving a problem, compared to other founders. To understand your Edge, you need to consider what knowledge, skills or behaviours you and your co-founder bring to the table. 

At EF, we encourage founders to use their Edge—their specific, personal, competitive advantage—as a basis for ideation. It means that by the time you get to an investor meeting, you can clearly articulate why you and your co-founder are the right people to build your specific company.

Leo Spenner, co-founder of Alcemy, was fresh out of uni when he joined EF, but had spent much of his life working on a cement plant owned by his family – that’s where his edge was. He knew enough about the cement industry to be able to identify a key problem in that space. 

Zeena Qureshi, co-founder of Sonantic (recently acquired by Spotify), had spent much of her young adult life teaching speech and language therapy to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as a part-time job. This was the basis of her Edge, and Sonantic’s mission became to create the most realistic AI-powered speech software.

Understanding your Edge is the key to answering the one question every investor has: “Why are you the right people to build this company?”. 

2. Demonstrate momentum.

Investors normally look at traction as an indicator of a startup’s potential. As a nascent startup, however, you won’t necessarily have tons of proof points (although if you do have a working product, happy customers, or revenue – that’s great). What you can show investors, though, is that you’ve been able to achieve a lot in a short space of time.

Productivity is traction for early stage teams, and your current trajectory can give investors a sense of what you could possibly achieve in the future. 

Show your progress – tell them about your customers, your product, your learnings. Help them understand why you think you’re on the verge of something huge.

3. Communicate an enormous vision (but know when to be pragmatic).

It’s worth remembering that Venture Capital is not suitable for over 99% of companies. Venture capital is concerned with the tiny number of companies that have the aspiration and the potential to become enormous. If that’s you, you need to show it.

Investors want to know that you’re tackling an enormous problem or opportunity, within a huge market. 

What evidence do you have that you’re addressing a big problem for the group of people you’re targeting? Have they already tried to solve the problem but failed? Have they spent time and money on the problem? Can you share quotes from them about how lifechanging your product is, or could be?

You need to convey your excitement, and build an inspiring vision of the future. But you also need to demonstrate pragmatism. Have the details to back up your claims, as well as an awareness of the risks you face, and an idea of how you’ll mitigate those risks.

Aim to stay calm and confident as concerns about you or your company arise. Ideally, investors won’t be bringing up anything you haven’t already considered, so you should be in a strong position to talk through any concerns. It’s not you vs them. Your aim should be to get investors up to speed and help them see where you’re coming from. Remember that you’re the expert when it comes to your company and your vision.

4. Be yourself.

This one is for anyone with a quieter disposition: you don’t need to sell like The Wolf of Wall Street. If you’re someone who cringes at the thought of becoming a salesperson, worry not. Not all sales is loud and flashy. You can tell your story in a compelling way, and show your passion for the product, without altering your personality.

Bring your authentic self to the table. If you do that, you’ll be able to build trust with the people sitting opposite you.

Investor meetings can be intense. It’s not always easy having people question you, and the company you’ve worked so hard on – but it’s worth remembering that it’s not personal. If you’re getting grilled, it’s because your company is interesting enough to dig into. If you’re in the room in the first place, it’s because you’ve already proven you deserve to be there. Remember that most established venture investors see hundreds or even thousands of companies each year, but fund only a handful. So don’t let the “No”s get you down. They’re inevitable. You only need one “Yes” – and the more you prepare, the more likely you are to find one.