We’ve been helping startups raise money around the world since 2004. Over 900,000 entrepreneurs have used our site. And the question we get asked most is ‘How can I get my idea to investment?‘.
After all this time in the industry, you’d think we’d be well-placed to answer it. And we are. But it’s still not an easy question and the answer depends on the business in question.
We’ve been holding events and workshops to help entrepreneurs navigate this difficult first hurdle. Back in March we did a big one with global digital skills educator, General Assembly. And we filmed the whole event so we could share the wisdom with as many people as possible…
The film is quite long and you may want to watch specific sections at a time, so here’s a breakdown:
0:00–17:06 Entrepreneur & Investor Olivia Sibony describes her experiences from the Grub Club idea to finding investors
Back in 2013, I took a step that would change the trajectory of my career forever. After seven years at Goldman Sachs, I left for a new adventure. I was confident in my skill set, but terrified that I was abandoning the safety net of the corporate career path.
Fast forward six years, and how glad I am that I took that decision. I launched a foodtech startup called GrubClub, which I ran for five challenging but satisfying years, before EatWith acquired us in 2017.
One of the things I learned on that journey was how hard and how
important it is to raise funding. That’s partly why I joined Angel Investment
Network last year. I had raised money through them for GrubClub and really
bought into their mission to democratise angel investment.
So, here are my five key tips for getting investment:
1. Investors invest in teams
Many of the most successful businesses are at their core very
simple ideas. Google allows people
to search for stuff on the internet. Ford builds cars. But neither Google nor
Ford were the first in their category.
Their success is commensurate to
their ability to execute changes.
That’s why the team in charge of navigating this journey is so important. And that’s why investors invest in teams. So, keep that at the forefront of your mind both when building out the early team (obviously), but also when creating a story for your pitch.
2. Remember that investors are not the same as customers
(This point is related to #3 below but is important enough
to mention on its own.) Entrepreneurs often fail to communicate successfully
with investors because they explain the benefits of their product/service as if
describing them to a potential customer.
This is easy to do because during product and strategy
meetings their focus has no doubt been on crafting the proposition to
While your investors may also be customers, your proposition to them should not be the same. You will lose their interest if you talk to them as if they were customers. So, craft a story and a proposition specific to them…
3. Tell investors a compelling story
I hear a lot of people give advice like ‘tell a story in your
pitch’. But they often fail to explain how to do that meaningfully. So, how do
you tell a compelling story to prospective investors?
The most basic story that all investors want to hear is how they
are going to make money. There may be other factors like the desire to make a
positive impact on the world. But ultimately, an investor wants to make a
I heard a founder sum up this idea nicely on The Startup Microdose
Podcast – he said, “Show investors what winning looks like.”
So, build the story of your pitch by putting dollar signs in the eyes of investors and by explaining to them how you are well-placed to execute on this grand vision.
4. Create momentum
Investors are busy people. You will not always be top of
their priority list. So, don’t be disheartened if they don’t get back to your
message straight away.
But also, don’t be shy of sending them reminder messages.
The trick to doing this and engaging them is to try to include some impressive update that you’ve achieved since your previous message to them e.g. ‘Ex-CEO of Unilever has just agree to join the board’ or ‘1,500 new users sign ups in the last week’.
This creates the impression of progress and always helps to prove the competence of you and your team.
5. Don’t waste time
We live in a digital world. A world full of tools to boost your productivity and streamline your processes. Use them! There are some great ones for raising investment. My favourites are: Seedlegals – for digitally creating and signing all your legal documents; MixMax – for seeing if people have read your email and how many times and when; and, of course, Angel Investment Network – for meeting investors you could never otherwise hope to meet.
What do you think?
These tips are both from my own experiences. Do you agree/disagree
or need more explanation? (Let me know in the comments!)
Olivia Sibony is an award-winning entrepreneur and ethical investment champion. She left a career at Goldman Sachs to launch foodtech startup, GrubClub, which she sold to Eatwith in 2017. She then joined Angel Investment Network (having previously raised money through them) to launch and grow SeedTribe, a spinoff platform focused on impact entrepreneurship.
is also a Board member of UCL’s Fast Forward 2030, which
aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to launch businesses that
address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).