Presenting to VCs and Angel Investors with Nancy Hayes

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Founded in 2011, Founders Network offers lifelong peer mentorship to over 600 tech startup founders globally. Our platform, programs and high-touch service facilitate authentic experience sharing, warm introductions and long-term professional relationships. Additional benefits include over $1M in startup discounts and mentorship from 50+ Institutional Investors. Members are located in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, London and other tech hubs. Each month our Membership Committee admits a new cohort of full-time tech founders who are nominated by an existing member.

4 min read

Angel investor and management consultant Nancy Hayes shares her formula for a compelling presentation, including pitch deck tips, common pitfalls to avoid, and insights on how you’ll be evaluated. 

For any startup founder, one of the most important skills to master is the art of the pitch. 

A good presentation can unlock deals and many other opportunities. And yet presentation skills are rarely intuitive: A good pitch requires time, knowledge and feedback to master. 

Nancy Hayes, principal at NKH Group, is a management consultant, executive coach and angel investor who also held executive roles at IBM, at nonprofits, and in higher education. Register at Founders Network for Nancy’s full webinar on presenting to angel investors and venture capitalists. 

Join Nancy for actionable advice on: 

  • Crafting Your Presentation
  • Tailoring Your Pitch
  • Building the Perfect Deck
  • Making “the Ask”
  • How You’ll Be Graded
“Investors want to see a CEO that they can envision being the CEO of the company as it grows, and attracting a team that will be successful in meeting the goals of the company.” - @nancyhayes Click To Tweet

The CEO of the company

Venture capitalists and angel investors want to see someone they can envision being the CEO of the company as it grows, attracting a team that will be successful in meeting the goals of the company, and someone that we can picture being at meetings with for the next seven to 10 years, responding to challenges in the environment. “In fact, most studies of investors have shown that the number one deciding criteria, although there are many important things, is the team and the CEO,” Hayes explains.

“Most studies of investors have shown that the number one deciding criteria, although there are many important things, is the team and the CEO.” - @nancyhayes Click To Tweet

Projecting confidence and an exciting vision for your startup is only one part of the equation. When pitching to angel investors or venture capitalists, it’s critical to understand your audience. There are notable distinctions between the two sets of investors, how their funds work, and what types of startups they tend to be interested in. And startup founders need to tailor their presentations to the environment: a timed meeting to a busy investor, versus a one-on-one meeting, will have distinct limitations and demands. 

“A common mistake is forgetting that the investor is not a potential customer, but is investing in a company,” Hayes says. “Investors are evaluating the risk-reward profile of an investment, not necessarily the specific features of your product,” Hayes adds. 

“A common mistake is forgetting that the investor is not a potential customer, but is investing in a company.” - @nancyhayes Click To Tweet

The pitch deck

Then there’s the pitch deck. Successful pitch decks will contain a few essential elements that reflect what investors are looking for, according to Hayes, and outline your business plan: Your team, the opportunity you’re pursuing, your product and how it fits into the market, traction to date, revenue model, etc. Nancy shares her formula with Founders Network, as well as pitfalls to avoid, such as relying on too much dense text to get your message across. 

Startup founders should also be aware of how they’re being evaluated. Investors are likely to score presenters on a range of criteria that reflect the content of the pitch, the soundness of your product and strategy, and how well you’re likely to execute your business plan. Ultimately, investors are evaluating the potential to get a sizable return on their investments — another reason why confidence, preparation, and knowing what your audience wants are so important.

Revenue-based financing

For some startups, revenue-based financing can be a great way to fund your growth without giving up any ownership of your business or establishing a long-term relationship with an investor. This works best for companies that already have some revenue, but won’t necessarily grow to the scale that a venture capitalist might expect. Revenue-based financing is commonly pursued by enterprise software startups, or companies with a social mission that will generate some revenue, but not enough to get the attention of many investors. 

“Revenue-based financing is a way of getting financing that does not result in permanent ownership transfer of the company, and it works best for companies that have a potential to grow and be profitable.” - @nancyhayes Click To Tweet

“Revenue-based financing is a way of getting financing that does not result in permanent ownership transfer of the company, and it works best for companies that have a potential to grow and be profitable — but are not going to scale large enough to attract an exit of the company,” Hayes explains. “So what resulted from this is the concept of a loan where I give you $10,000, and you hold back a single digit percent of your revenue each year. And then you use that to start paying me back until I’ve reached a predetermined return. Then the relationship is over.”

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Read more by Founders Network

Founded in 2011, Founders Network offers lifelong peer mentorship to over 600 tech startup founders globally. Our platform, programs and high-touch service facilitate authentic experience sharing, warm introductions and long-term professional relationships. Additional benefits include over $1M in startup discounts and mentorship from 50+ Institutional Investors. Members are located in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, London and other tech hubs. Each month our Membership Committee admits a new cohort of full-time tech founders who are nominated by an existing member.