This is a far better way to have conversations about potential funding. You might ask ‘how on earth do I do that!?’ In our experience, investors are actually very approachable; after all, they are looking to fund people like you. Therefore, it makes sense to gradually cultivate relationships with one, or ideally several angel investors.
This can be done by tweeting, emailing or meeting an angel investor at an event. You will be surprised how many will respond to your requests. By nature, businessmen and entrepreneurs enjoy sharing their industry knowledge and expertise. Angel investors are no different and will relish the opportunity to give you feedback on your start-up.
You will learn a lot from attending pitching events. Analyse your competitor’s startup pitches, the questions asked by angel investors and the feedback angel investors give to start-ups.
Introduce yourself to as many of the judges and angel investors as possible at these events. This will help build awareness for yourself, your brand and start-up idea.
Mary McKenna, Fred Wilson and Brad Feld are three angel investors who regularly share their thoughts on who and what they invest in, as well as a huge range of other topics too. Their blogs are well written, with excellent insights into funding for start-ups.
By following angel investors carefully, you will gain insight into the type of pitches they are looking for. These are just three examples to get you started. Part of the process is you identifying which type of angel investors are a right fit for your startup and then researching their digital footprint.
This is a great way to get an idea of what angel investors are interested in, long before you ever approach or pitch to them. Our former interviewee Larry Kim compiled a useful list of useful angel investors to follow on Twitter.
Make sure to keep an eye out for two Irish angel investors who are helpful and engaged in Ireland’s startup community, Pat Phelan and Colm Lyon. There are many more, find the ones that are most relevant to you. Richard Branson is an obvious one, but for that reason he has several million followers and he is less likely to engage with you. Although, Foodcloud, an Irish start-up, recently achieved great success in his pitching competition, coming second and receiving £20,000 to help develop their business!
Mary McKenna, serial Irish entrepreneur and angel investor gave us the following anecdote, as a subtle form of advice...
“I can remember sitting next to a young entrepreneur at dinner one evening and I asked him how he would cope when his only option was less sleep and he said to me – that won’t happen because I’m capping my working week at 60 hours. He was really annoyed when I replied – Your start-up will fail.”
This may sound like tough love, but they are investing in you, so you need to convince them that you are worth investing in.
There is a good reason why the start-up community is called exactly that. It is a collaborative, supportive group. Not all start-ups may want to share their investment details, but many more understand the value of collaborating and helping out fellow entrepreneurs. If you know of a start-up who has achieved investment, why not ask them how they did it?
Do you really, really, really need their money yet? By nature, angel investors are very careful with their money (this should be no surprise). They will ask you a lot of hard questions about how you plan to use their funding, and if it’s necessary to invest at an early stage. These are all questions you should have already asked yourself, many times. Bootstrapping is actually a good experience to have gone through yourself as it will make you very aware of what is and is not worth spending money on.
Maybe angel investors are not getting your idea, and it’s proving hard to attract investment. Crowdfunding is often an excellent way to validate your concept. If people are willing to put their money behind it, then you might just have one of those ideas that is ahead of the curve. In this situation, there might be enough small ‘micro angel investors’, aka crowd-funders, who believe in your start-up.
“Personally I think it’s important that people have done their research & know who they’re pitching too and why. There’s often a tendency to waste everyone’s time by pitching to anyone who’ll stand still long enough but I believe it’s important to look beyond the money, which if you have a great idea then you should easily be able to get from anywhere, and ask “aside from the investment, what else can this person do to help my business succeed?”
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