How to Pitch Investors?

Coming up with brilliant business concepts that you strongly believe in may be easy; selling them to others is hard. Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of pitches from both Swedish and American entrepreneurs. Here are my notes that I will take into consideration the day I come up with my grand business idea. 

The Shark Tank panel at the  Life Tech Forum  hosted by SACC NE; Johan Christenson (Health Cap), Jeffrey M. Arnold (Boston Harbor Angels and Mass Medic Angels), Rasmus Goksor (Bison) and Doug Cole (Flagship Ventures).

The Shark Tank panel at the Life Tech Forum hosted by SACC NE; Johan Christenson (Health Cap), Jeffrey M. Arnold (Boston Harbor Angels and Mass Medic Angels), Rasmus Goksor (Bison) and Doug Cole (Flagship Ventures).

First of all, you have to adjust the pitch to the people that you are pitching to. If you are pitching to American investors, with the aim of entering the U.S. market, I can guarantee you that they do not care about the market demand in Sweden, amounts in SEK or competitors in Sweden. Skip all references to Sweden! 

  • Investors are humans: You have to connect with them on an emotional level and understand what they are interested in. You also have to convince them that you are going to make your dream come true with or without their help – they just have the opportunity to be a part of your success story. Connect with the investors by telling an inspiring story that addresses the market problem you are trying solve. Do not hesitate to talk about who you are, your background and why they should choose you.
  • Investors are business oriented: Even if the investors do get inspired, they will not make a move if your business concept is vague or fuzzy. You need to have a deep understanding of your business concept and market. You should be prepared to answer the following questions:
  1. Is your product solving a problem or is it a "must have"? 
  2. How large is your market, and is it big enough? 
  3. Who are your competitors? 
  4. What are the advantages of your business concept compared to others?
  5. What is your customer acquisition strategy? 

  • Be precise and straightforward: Do not use a super complex 20-slide PowerPoint. I always find it easier to connect with, and fell attracted to, a simple idea. Furthermore - stick to the timeframe, which I find really depends on the relevant circumstances. 
  • Do not forget your team: You may be an excellent business leader and your business concept may be awesome, however, you will never make it in the U.S. by yourself. Your team has to be strong; it should be a dynamic and powerful core of the business. Frictions within the team will scare investors, and bad partnerships can ruin any brilliant business concept.  
  • Investors are not investing to be nice: Investors expect to get back at least as much as they put in, and in most cases a lot more. Therefore, you need a strong exit strategy with clear information on how the investors will get their money back - otherwise they will share their wealth with someone else. 

Finally, you have to practice your pitch – and keep in mind that, you will probably get different feedback from different people. Even if you take into account all the feedback you get, I guess it all boils down to hard work and commitment, but also timing and some luck.  

Jonathan Ortheden,  AppUniverse  pitching.  

Jonathan Ortheden, AppUniverse pitching.  

By: Kajsa Morawetz

kajsa.morawetz@sacc-ne.org

SACC Accelerator program with AppUniverse and Upstain

This week, SACC New England (SACC NE), has had the privilege of welcoming the Swedish companies AppUniverse and Upstain to Cambridge/Boston as participants in the SACC Accelerator program. The SACC Accelerator Program has been designed to connect Scandinavian start-ups with the resources needed to launch and succeed i the U.S. SACC NE has been working with the companies through online webinars for 6 weeks, and it has been a pleasure to conclude the SACC Accelerator Program on-site. 

AppUniverse: The founder of AppUniverse is Jonathan Ortheden; 18 years old, and winner of Apple's WWDC scholarship award 2014 and 2015. From the basement of Jonathan’s parents house, he has developed 20 apps on app store and has over half a million downloads. Nowadays, Jonathan together with his team, develops new apps focusing on creating a great experience in order to get as many users as possible.

Upstain: The company has developed a first impression eye-tracking camera that makes it possible to prove exactly where a viewers attention is targeted. Upstain makes it possible to measure how much attention ads actually are getting - an important first step to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Jason McMillion, the founder of the company, has been working with marketing for many years, and has been developing the camera and the method of analyzing the results for a period of 3 years.  

Jonathan Ortheden, AppUniverse and Jason McMillion, Upstain. 

Jonathan Ortheden, AppUniverse and Jason McMillion, Upstain. 

One goal of the SACC Accelerator program has been to contribute with knowledge to make it easier for Swedish companies to enter the U.S. market, and another goal has been to help the companies to deal with cultural differences that exits between Sweden and the U.S.

When AppUniverse and Upstain arrived to Boston, we started off with a legal session at WilmerHale, where one of the firm's partners Gary Schall, guided us through the most important issues in order to operate a U.S. business. The focus was on legal issues such as; choice of legal entity, equity compensation, protecting intellectual property and capital raising. Crammed with a lot of new and valuable information, we continued with a session held by Gregory G. Pierce at NorthStar about insurances - a jungle where it is very easy to get lost, especially from a Swedish point of view. 

The day ended with a pitch and demo night at Workbar, Cambridge, where we heard the entrepreneurs behind AppUniverse and Upstain, pitch to a panel of experts consisting of Ray Skoglund (investment banker with CFSC), Bill Jacobson (co-founder of workbar and partner at Techpoint Ventures, LLC), Carolyn Thomas (head of Bank Boston’s Loan Syndications and Trading) and Camilo S. (strategy consultant, business development adviser and angel investor).

" Mobile apps are everywhere you go " - Jonathan Ortheden, AppUniverse pitching. 

"Mobile apps are everywhere you go" - Jonathan Ortheden, AppUniverse pitching. 

We would like to thank the panelists for participating and for the valuable feedback! Jason and Jonathan did a remarkable job at concisely describing their companies, business models and market opportunities. It is a huge challenge to pitch a complex concept within a short timeframe, and to convince the audience that your concept is better or more unique than the competitors on the market.

The panelists: Ray Skoglund, Bill Jacobson, Carolyn Thomas and Camilo S.

The panelists: Ray Skoglund, Bill Jacobson, Carolyn Thomas and Camilo S.

De  mo of Upstain's eye-tracking camera.

Demo of Upstain's eye-tracking camera.

SACC NE would also like to take the opportunity to thank Workbar for the hospitality in hosting the event!

This morning we started the day with a workshop discussing Market Strategy with Louis Hatzis and Evan Antonatos. We touched upon headlines such as how to create measurable value for potential costumers and investors, but also how to reach the relevant target market.

Stella Lovén, President of SACC NE, and who has been working with taking a start-up company to the U.S., underlined that the most challenging part to enter the U.S. market as a European company is to comprehensive understand your unique value proposition from an American perspective.

An update from the rest of the SACC Accelerator week will be posted later on this week. 

By: Kajsa Morawetz

kajsa.morawetz@sacc-ne.org