A Venture Fair is a great way to get your company in front of a large number of investors in a single day. Venture Fairs are held in most large cities at various times during the year. Your local SBA Small Business Development Center can typically provide information on upcoming venture fairs and how you can participate.
Listed below are a few helpful tips for making the day a big success.
1. Understand Your Purpose. Your presentation should have one main purpose- to get investors interested enough they want to meet with you. The venture fair presentation is your resume. The one-on-one discussion that follows is your interview.
2. Grab the Audiences Attention. Youll have fifteen seconds up front to hook the audience. The typical eight minute time limit may be short to you, but to venture capitalists who listen to 25 presentations in a day, its an eternity. How do you grab their attention? Try a powerful first slide, audio clips, interactive questions, a provocative statement or a well-crafted analogy.
3. Less Is More. The key is to deliver those key points that will earn you credibility and an interview- not to deliver maximum information. Pace your presentation so that youre not racing to reach the end.
4. Simplify Your Slides. Dont make people squint. Avoid complex diagrams and slides full of text. Its a big room and the screen is small. Keep in mind you dont want investors spending all their time digesting the slides. You want them listening to you.
5. Image. Be yourself. Be enthusiastic. Get people excited. Ideally the CEO or President should give the presentation but only if he/she has the personality skills and speaking capabilities. Otherwise, the sales/marketing VP can tell the story.
6. Come Prepared. Practice your presentation several times. Dont read it- know it stone cold. Practice in front of people. Present it to friends and then to people who know nothing about your company. See if they understand it. Videotape yourself and watch it.
7. Be Ready For Questions. Investors will challenge you with many detailed questions about financials and many other aspects of your business plan. Put a great deal of effort into preparing for investor questions. And if you get a question you dont have the answer to, tell the investor you will get the information and get back to them soon.
8. Organize the Presentation. Its important to emphasize key points while not spending too much time on technical details. Investors dont invest in technology. They invest in teams and market niches. Know your competitive advantage, why you have it, and how long it will last.
9. Whats Your Product or Service? The audience needs to understand your business in slide one. A good analogy can help define the product and gets the audience involving by comparing it to something they already know and understand. Have you ever needed…; Have you ever done …; wouldnt it be nice if you could…? Then follow up with Well, guess what? Weve got it. Were like X.
10. Sell Your Management Team. Success is all about experience. Execution is everything. Investors look for people who are experienced, driven and easy to work with. If your team doesnt look smart and hungry, investors will pass. If your team has experience in building successful entrepreneurial companies or running profitable divisions or sales teams, emphasize it. Spend time touting your advisory board. And, if you have a key position to fill, be able to identify who will be on board when you get the money.
11. Address the Competition. Tell investors why you are ahead of the competition and why you will be able to maintain that lead. Explain your strategic advantage or niche play. Be realistic about risks. Tell the investors what the risks are and how you will deal with them.
12. Detail the Market Potential. Explain the market, your niche in that market, and its size. Focus on market segmentation and how you will be the number one player in this define niche. If you are breaking into a new market, youll need to spend more time on the market potential. If it is an established market, your pitch can be quick. Keep in mind, investors want to back market leaders- not someone who is targeting a small percentage of a huge general market.
13. Demonstrate Customer Acceptance. If you have customers, identify the household names. If you dont have customers, talk to l5-20 key companies you think would be your best customers and ask, If I had this product and rolled it out, would you buy it and how many would you buy? Have the heads of a major division write you a letter touting your product, saying he doesnt know anybody else in the market doing what you do, and that he would buy X amount of product at X price. Having buyer acceptance is much more powerful that saying you have a great widget, a great team, etc.
14. Show Credible Financial Projections and Uses of Funds. Make sure your financials make sense and that your milestones are reasonable. Show a successful track record in hitting your targets. Know the industry norms and dont stray too far from them. Tell the investor how you intend to spend his money and how the investment will advance your company.
15. Deliver a Strong Closing. The last slide should be the closer. Show how the company will make lots of money. Figure on a 5-7 years exit strategy.
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