“Work the inside of the plate with your fastball.”
This was the advice I received from my friend when I mentioned that I was pitching at an investment summit earlier this month.
He was no doubt attempting a joke, but it made me realize that many people might not really understand what it means to pitch to investors. Or worse, you may be under the impression that what happens on Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den is how things unfold in the real world.
I thought I would use this month’s blog post to answer a few questions you may have about what it’s like to raise money from investors. If you’re curious to know more, feel free to reply to this email and ask! I always love getting your thought and feedback on these emails.
Q - What is a pitch exactly?
A - A pitch is the first step in winning over an investor to buy into my business.
It is usually a 3-5 minute presentation of my “pitch deck,” which is a PowerPoint that follows a pretty standard industry format.
It outlines my business (plant enhanced meat products), the problem our customers have that we’re trying to solve (sustainably made meat that actually tastes good and doesn’t break the bank), the size of the overall market we’re trying to enter (meat sales globally is $1.8 trillion USD), plus a little bit about me and what we’ve managed to accomplish so far.
Q - 3-5 minutes? That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to convince someone to give you a bunch of money?
A - You’re right, it’s not! The initial pitch is often very short out of necessity. Professional investors working in this space read and hear literally thousands of pitches each year. That goal of the first pitch is to earn a second follow-up meeting to talk about your business more in-depth, not to secure an investment right on the spot.
Q - So why are you looking for investments right now?
A - In the past year we made a big change to our business strategy. Instead of growing our wholesale business and selling through grocery stores, we decided to focus on selling directly to consumers. It’s been fun doing that through our online store, but what we really want is to have an opportunity to meet you in person! To do that, we’re planning to open a production space and storefront where you can come see your food get made and chat with the people making it. To create this special space, we need to raise some outside investment to purchase bigger equipment, build more cold storage, and build a space that both staff and customers will be excited to come visit.
Q - How long does the process usually take?
A - It usually takes at least six months of undivided attention by a company founder to pitch and land an investment. I started our process back in March but ran into some problems when the Silicon Valley Bank went bust. It ended up scaring everyone in the startup ecosystem, including in Canada, so we paused for a few months while things settled down.
Q - Does anyone help you?
A - I’ve been very fortunate that over the past few years I entered several pitch competitions before we were actually fundraising and received amazing pitch coaching. I’m also working with a great team at Winnipeg’s premier start-up supporters, North Forge Technology Exchange.
Q - That sounds cool, can I invest?
A - Sure! But unless you’re a pro, you’ll have to wait a little bit. The process we’re following is landing our first professional investor first and then opening up to smaller individual investors.
Q - Hmm, sounds cool but investing isn’t really my forte. Any other way I can support you to help make this happen?
A - You bet! And it’s super easy. Just keep ordering from our online store. One of the most important things investors look for when making decisions is business traction. The more sausage and meatballs that go out our door and into your kitchen, the more convinced investors are going to be that you’ll come visit us when we swing our doors open.