6 Things To Do Before Approaching Investors

Here’s a quick checklist of a few things that you can do to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row before you take your deal out on the road to investors (if you are a concept stage business, or thinking of taking the programme accelerator route then this may be less relevant but still worth checking out anyway).

"Got all your ducks in-a-row before taking your deal on the road?"

“Got all your ducks in-a-row before taking your deal on the road?”

1 – Update all team Linked In profiles

This seems an obvious point to make but just a reminder that most people in business very often visit your LinkedIn profile ahead of a meeting or conversation with you. It goes without saying to not only make sure the profile is an accurate reflection of both past and present but it’s a good idea if you can stoke up your profile in other ways such as: adding any links to blogs and websites, getting recommendations from business colleagues, subscribing to relevant LinkedIn ‘Groups’ and connecting with a healthy number of peers, colleagues, friends and associates.  www.linkedin.com

2 – Outsider’s second opinion 

Get a company outsider with experience, perhaps a mentor or advisor if you have one, to review all investor communications, including: the executive summary, pitch deck, business plan and financial statements. In fact if you can get more than one outsider to look over everything, then that would be even better. Hopefully, they will spot any unqualified statements, areas that lack clarity or detail. If they feedback to you with similar ‘weak-spots’ then this could be an indication that an investor might query the same aspects. You will then need to considering de-risking these aspects before making investor contact.

3 – Do the ‘D RISK IT’ test

This business tool can help startup founders to spot any deal weaknesses and prepare their deal before they take it to angel investors. As well as two calculators that help suggest an early valuation starting point and ROI multiple position, there is also a tool that takes a deal proposition on a 7-stage review. Loaded into the app’s information files are suggestions of what investors are looking for, as well as how to address the weaker aspects of the deal that you are putting before investors:  www.drisk.it

4 – Try out a canvas or two

This one is debatable but the sort of focus that doing the ‘canvas’ brings will show when you get a grilling from investors when pitching. Do some business case ‘canvas’ testing (Lean Canvas, Business Model Canvas & Strategy Canvas, etc). In the absence of any early revenues and traction, having user/audience validation is the next best piece of good news that you can present to investors and is a major de-risking step in itself. Just like accelerators and crowdfunding websites, new canvas variants are springing up all the time.  www.leanstack.com  www.businessmodelgeneration.com  and http://strategycanvas.org

5 – Get an AngelList profile

This site has become ‘the’ online place to seek out investors if your are a startup founder. I’m not sure how true that statement is if you are outside of the US or Europe but if you are fundraising, or expect to be in the near future, then it is definitely worth (and increasingly expected) that investors may check  you out in this deal-flow portal. Startups can put up a deal profile, as well as search out investors (both angels and VCs) according to their location or sector.  www.angel.co

6 – Get a Gust profile

A close second to Angel List is Gust. This site started as an investors post-deal due diligence platform where investors could talk, share and huddle around a deal’s due diligence prior to making an offer but because entrepreneurs and investors can also submit/receive deal info at the pitch stage, it’s a pretty good international investment meeting place.  www.gust.com

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From the other side of the table, perhaps also take a look at the following article showing a particular investor’s checklist prior to engaging with a startup founder …  http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/18/my-angel-investor-checklist

Another article gives “Six tools used by startup investing insiders to – identify and invest in the next Facebook” … http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackmiller/2014/01/06/6-tools-used-by-startup-investing-insiders-to-identify-and-invest-in-the-next-facebook

Have I missed anything off? Do let me know.

Aristos

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D RISK IT – An app to get your fundraising on track

Driskit logo rgbA large part of my work involves helping companies with their fund-raising. I turn down over 90% of the companies that land on my desk because quite simply they are not investment ready, let alone deal ready. Even though the proposition often seems to be quite good, if not excellent, there are still many other reasons why an investor is likely to reject it. This all makes for a lot of frustrated entrepreneurs out there. Well, I’ve decided to do something about it by taking some of the real world processes, guidance and help that I give out and wrapping it all up in a smartphone app. The app is called ‘D Risk It‘ because that’s what founders ultimately need to do when they are configuring a deal proposition for investors; they need to de-risk it.

App icon with bevel CMYK

The app should be ready Autumn 2013. If this sounds interesting then you can follow the link to do a simple registration and get an alert when the app is ready …. www.drisk.it

My 3 ‘Can’t-Live-Without’ iPhone apps

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I thought I’d take a break from the topic of investment and fundraising for a while and instead  start the New Year on a lighter note by spending a little time reflecting on three of my ‘must have‘ apps. I’ve picked on these three because they really are cornerstone apps for me and vitally important to the way I work; on-the-go and across several devices. Below is an outline of my top three but I would really like to hear some of yours too.

1PW_Graphic1 Password (£5.49):  This one is totally indispensable for me. These days we all have so many passwords to remember and we need access to them across several devices. I hold and use somewhere between 50-75 passwords for website access and all manor of logins. The high level of encryption and the excellent data management make 1PW an app that is definitely a must have for me. When I upload or change a password on one device then it is synced automatically across the others. The key feature of this app is that all you ever need remember is ‘one password.’ Even though you might make a different log-in for each website, this application recognises the URL and feeds in the log-in details automatically, as long as you give it your 1PW master password. There are other neat futures too, like the ability to store wallet information such as bank or bank card information (really handy when you are out and asked for some verification information), or the ability in a PC browser to recognise the website and let you type your 1PW password to open up the access without launching the application. However, the cost to have the application across all devices (laptop, mobile and tablet) is over £40. For me, still worth it for such a vital application.

DropBox_GraphicDropbox (Free):  For around 6 years now I’ve been storing ‘everything’ in the cloud. My hard drive has only been used for nothing but storage of the files and apps that it was born with on its OS installation birthday. I used to use iDisc before Apple knocked it on the head mid-2012. For a while I found myself scrambling around as iCloud was not going to support file storage and synchronisation. I was nervous about transferring everything over to Dropbox but I’m pleased to say it’s been up to the job. Making things even better, these these days many application makers build in the option to synchronise or back-up to Dropbox. Everything I do is in the cloud; no more saving things on hard drives.

ScannerPocket Scanner (£1.49):  This one is sooooo useful. I mainly use if for scanning important documents when I am on-the-go then emailing the resulting PDF back to my email for safe keeping, storage or to view at a more convenient time.

Apps

I’d also like to take some time here to acknowledge some really rather naff apps that should be a lot better. I love Linked In and use it daily but the iOS app for me is truly naff, with no consistency with website product. A mention here also to every WiFi printer app I’ve ever used.

I’d be interested to know what is the most expensive app on your phone. Mine is not a business app but an ornithology app I brought a few years ago to encourage me to get out a little more and go for more walks. For a few years I got into bird spotting with an app weighing in at around £13.

Got time to tell me the most expensive app on your phone, or what apps have become totally indispensable for you? Any that are truly useless and frustrating?