One of the most common questions asked by our entrepreneurs at Farm491 is (no surprise), “how can we raise money?” It is a problem every start-up will face at some point – to get your idea to market will typically cost something in materials or expertise even if you are happy giving your time for free, and unless you have that rich relative who just believes in you no-matter what, then you will probably need to look externally. Who you go to will depend on many factors about your business, but when you get in front of a potential investor, there are common mistakes that can be avoided. Here are some of our top 10 handy tips that could help:
- Be concise: investors receive a lot of materials daily so don’t have the capacity to spend a lot of time on the first read, so try and reduce your core message down as much as possible, maybe even to a sentence.
- Explain everything in layman’s terms: the technology, the sector, why it’s important and the size of the addressable market. Have the detail if needed, but assume they know nothing about agriculture and avoid overly technical terms that require people to think to understand.
- Try and get some market validation: this is hard for early stage ideas, but if you can get letters of intent from potential customers, it is a great start and helps give confidence that the market is real. Or any feedback on the product, pricing strategy (does it need to be at price parity to achieve adoption). A roadmap is a great way of showing what you think are the necessary milestones to get to commercialization as well as showing you know what you are doing.
- Is there any evidence supporting the technology: any scientific papers, or collaborations supporting that technology or concept will work once developed.
- What is the real competition: Not always is anyone else doing what you are doing, but who could be doing this in the future, and at a lower cost.
- Do your diligence on each investor: what do they like, what do they talk about and what motivates them as an investor. The more you can hit their sweet spot the easier it is to move to a second conversation. Look at how they describe problems and solutions and try and incorporate similar language.
- Bottom line will always be revenue: knowing where it will come from, how long it will be to first customers, and how quickly it will grow will be key for investors to gauge the potential for financial returns. Farmers don’t have pots of cash so if a solution is not cheaper than the current market standard, can they really afford it? Or can someone else bear that cost in the market.
- Where is the long term value being created: Hardware costs will reduce over time, so is there value in the IP, the data, the insights?
- Look to see if there is an international angel: UK is a small market vs. Rest of Europe, U.S., Asia
- Keep an open mind: Are there alternative business models that could be used that will be more attractive to investors; alternative funding sources (grants. debt)?
How to whittle your game-changing idea down to a two minute pitch is of course a huge question that this post cannot fully tackle, but through the Farm491 IAI programme start-ups can join our free two day Bootcamps. Here you will have the space to put your thoughts on paper, and through facilitated discussion and guest speakers, develop your business model and come out closer to an investor-ready pitch. There are also opportunities for longer-term engagement with the Farm491 team as well as co-working and office space, letting you work in collaborative, agri-tech specialist environment with fellow entrepreneurs, through the Farm491 Membership options. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are always happy to chat.