When we put on our Need for Seed event with SeedLegals last month, we asked founders who were fundraising to apply for the opportunity to pitch to 19 Angel Investors. As you can imagine, it was a pretty attractive proposition, and as a result, we had over 550 applications in just 3 weeks.
This was a pretty overwhelming task for us! We felt like VCs for the week - our job was to select 19 of the best startups from the list of 550 to network with our 19 angels.
Operating with the mindset of quickly filtering through data on the lookout for impressive founders, we learnt that we quickly discounted startups, and got passionate about other startups based on how and what they communicated.
We thought we’d share these TOP TIPS / best practices with you, so if you are applying for these events in the future, you have the best chance of success.
1. Be crystal clear about the industry you operate in. When selecting startups, we were matching the investment criteria of our angels, If an angel invests in Fintech, and a startup's opening gambit was ‘we are a fintech company that…’ it made our lives A LOT easier. Immediately that startup got more attention as we read the rest of their description with interest. When reading some of the startups bios, it was still unclear which industry they operated in, which meant checking out their website and having to work it out for ourselves - all of this takes time, which we didn’t have. All VCs, angel networks, and investor intro events will have industries / sectors in mind - save them time and make their lives easier - you’ll already be a favourite.
2. Answer the questions. Seems like a fairly obvious one, but it is immediately clear who is answering the questions, and who is trying to copy / paste responses they’d written elsewhere to fit the questions. It looks lazy and doesn’t give us the confidence we need to introduce you to our investors.
On that note, please don’t copy and paste the same paragraph as an answer to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION. It’s clear it’s a punt and you aren’t putting any time into it. It’s wasting our time, and yours.
3. Use the opportunity to sell yourself. One of the questions on the form was ‘any growth metrics you’d like to share?. If a startup answered ‘N/A’ to this question (which a surprising amount did) or left it blank, it was highly unlikely they made it through the first cut. For us, this was the question we were most interested in as it demonstrated a founder's passion, commitment, and capability. If you don’t have ‘growth metrics’, which some of our applicants didn’t, put other metrics there that make you look good or discuss an exciting upcoming launch, development, etc.
4. Stay away from buzzwords.
We want to hear what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, who you’re doing it with and what you’ve recently done. We get excited about numbers, passion, vision, a talented team, tech developments and more numbers - not adjectives. If you have even just a few of these, we don't need the adjectives to get excited.
Remember, be concise, be clear, and show rather than tell.