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Monday, September 24, 2012

Investor meetings will not happen if they do not believe what you send

You only get one time to make a great first impression

I have reviewed countless technologies over the years from the company side and the investor side.  In addition, I have presented or attended many meetings with investors in efforts to get companies funded.  It is clear that the investors understand the technology and business or they do not.  What is sometimes not clear is whether their understanding relates to what you are presenting.  This means you can walk out of a presentation believing the investors understood and agreed with everything you said, and they depart the meeting in a fog!  Making the process worse, you may have lost them on the review of preliminary info sent to seek a meeting.

Understanding is critical to the investment process.  Investors will not give you money if they do not get it.  One factor that to consider is if they understand do they believe; i.e. did you pass the sniff test.  When investors do not believe what you are telling them, more often than not they do not even take a meeting.  This leaves you with the loss of a chance to make a positive impression because the info you sent leaves them thinking your technology is flawed.

This occurs more than you might think.  In a review of a technology recently, I sent the info to several people to gauge their responses.  The technology was simple but the underlying science was a more complex.  Convincing someone the product may work required his or her belief in the underlying science.  Even though there was a summary of the science, none of the people that received the info got the message.  Several phone calls later, it became obvious the company was not getting the reception they desired because they did not pass the sniff test. This was a true tragedy since the product seemed to be very exciting and of significant value. 

It is critical that investors understand your technology.  They may need to understand the background leading to the technology as well.  Failure to present the business opportunity in a manner that leaves the investor comfortable will result in a negative response.  It is hard enough to have people fully understand every aspect and have them give you money.  Complicating the process by presenting the business and having misunderstandings makes obtaining investments near impossible.

One trick you might try before you swamp the investment community with your marketing materials is to test drive the materials with several third parties that review the info FRESH!  It took this process for me to understand why the company had not received a great reception from a number of investment firms.  Changing the approach and materials may help, but it now requires a re-education of all those that passed the first time around.  I have stated this before, but you only get one time to make a great first impression.  After that, the work gets much harder.  Test-drive your marketing materials and be confident your message passes the sniff test before your show the materials to investors.  Make a good first impression and increase your odds of success.