How to Find Investors and Pitch Events
A huge unknown for many new inventors and entrepreneurs is figuring out how to find investors.
Fortunately, there are a ton of online places where investors are hiding — including investor matchmaking sites like Angel Investment Network.
However, you may be looking for a more personal, face-to-face opportunity. This is why pitching events are the perfect place to find an investor audience.
My experience as a Pitch Consultant for several investor networks has shown that any entrepreneur can find the right deal – you just need to start pitching. My clients have pitched for Shark Tank, Dragons Den, PITCH Investors Live, and local community events. The one thing that has become crystal clear: you, dear entrepreneur, have plenty of options!
The right investor is out there, waiting for you to connect with them. However, it can feel like a huge set of unknowns. You may be wondering where to look for investor opportunities, how to prepare for them, how to know which ones are perfect for your business idea?
Finding a pitching event where investors are waiting for entrepreneurs to pitch to them can feel like finding a shadow in a dark room. Don’t worry — it is NOT that hard!
If you watch shows like Shark Tank and fantasize about being on that stage, pitching your idea, and raising millions in an hour, read on!!!
There are lots of different types of pitch events, such as ones that cater to tech, healthcare, inventions, and so on, so start by looking for an event that aligns with your interests.
Targeting the right audience for your pitch is key to success.
For example, I had a client who was targeting start-up events that were more for Silicon Valley tech businesses. Even though his business technically was classified as a really innovative tech gadget, he was pitching at events where he didn’t have his target type of investor present who understood why his invention was so amazing and life-saving in nature.
When he started pitching his life-saving man overboard detection invention at pitch events that were oriented towards marina life and the coast guard community, he finally found that the audience was more receptive to his business idea. The funding was out there, he just had to change his audience.
Where They Are
Wondering how to find investors at pitch events? Simply attend!
These pitching events exist in every major city across the country. If you do a Google search on “entrepreneur” + “pitch” + (your zip code), you will likely pull up any local events on the horizon. If you need an angel investor versus a venture capitalist, add that keyword to your search.
These events are often hosted by local business support groups, like a city urban league or a branch of the chamber of commerce. Sometimes they can be a bit low-budget, so don’t have any expectations beyond metal folding chairs and a frill-less environment. You are going for access to investors — not for 15 minutes of a glamorous moment!
How They Work
These events are typically set up so that you stand in front of a room, have a projector screen, and show a PowerPoint slideshow while you pitch your business idea to 1-4 investors. They will sit there and listen to your spiel. Then, they will have a chance to ask you questions (on the spot!) that you will need to be prepared to answer.
These events often allow public admission, so you may also have 50-200 people in the room as well. This audience will be watching the whole thing. They probably paid for a ticket to the event, so they are literally coming to watch you as a spectacle. No pressure!
How to Prepare
When you are added to the agenda for a pitching event, you will need to prepare materials for your presentation. Ask the event host if you will be allowed to hand out materials to the investors directly. It is very helpful if you have a 1-2 page business plan handy. Have enough copies to give out to each investor so they can mull over your idea. Make sure that the materials have your name and email address, so the investors can send you a note whenever they get a chance to look at your material.
When building your PowerPoint pitch, make sure you use pictures over words as much as possible. A great rule to follow is to aim for less than 15 words per slide. That can be very difficult, but it will make it easier for your audience to follow your verbal pitch instead of them reading over your shoulder the whole time. Your PowerPoint is an aid — not a script — so never read directly from the presentation!
Finally, if you have stage fright, you may want someone else on the business team to help you pitch. Most events allow 1-3 speakers on stage, so if you need someone who loves the limelight and knows your business well, see if you can coax them into being your voice during parts of the pitch. Having a co-speaker will help you feel less burdened with being a perfect presenter. It will also help the investors to see the best of you — without you being riddled with nerves while onstage.