Our answer this month comes from Gerard Buckley of Jaguar Capital, who has more than 30 years of experience in capital markets working with Fortune 500 companies.
Before getting to your question, let’s back up a bit to determine whether you’re actually ready to meet with a venture capitalist. There are four main types of financing that entrepreneurs may receive before going public, depending on their stage of development. Self-financing or bootstrapping is for businesses just starting out, with an initial project or idea. Angel investors can help see you through from R&D to the start of commercializing the business. Venture capitalists don’t usually invest until production has stabilized, and large-scale bank financing can come even later.
If you’ve reached the stage in your business when you are looking for outside financing, your first step is to determine what will interest investors.
• Scalable business process: Investors are looking for businesses that they can take to the next level, with the prospect of long-term growth.
• Strong management team: You should have the right people in place to help you develop and run your business.
• Disruptive technology or product: Your business should be creating something that is game changing, and that people will want to buy.
• Passion: Your drive and ambition will be what sets you apart from other entrepreneurs.
As for actually meeting angel investors or venture capitalists, it comes down to networking. There are many angel-investing groups across Canada that you can find from searching online or talking to people in your industry. Other business people, especially entrepreneurs who’ve previously built a profitable company, can mentor you and introduce you to investors.
Keep in mind that there are thousands of small businesses looking for financing, so there is stiff competition for just a meeting. Investors will use a qualification process to sort through applicants. This may start with a meet-and-greet event, or an application that progresses through several levels of review. It’s only a small number of entrepreneurs who ultimately get to pitch their idea in person, so it’s your job to present your business case in a compelling way at every step in the process.
One last word: Know what you are looking for before asking for financing. Some investors may want control of your company, in which case you’ll be working for them. Other investors want you to drive the business, while others have the experience and desire to coach and mentor you. Decide whether you want a boss, an advisor, funding or a combination, and keep looking until you find that.
Article originally featured on the website: Get Growing for Business. Find additional information and tools relevant to your business.