Charles Irving

Know Your Business

This article is written by Milambo Kabeleka, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Mr. Charles Irving is a Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Pond Venture Partners Ltd. His work involves, providing the main interface with investors, helping with team-building and organizational issues, and co-ordinating fundraising for the fund at Pond companies. He has over 30 years experience in corporate deal making in the investment and commodities arena, 18 of which were with Glencore AG, as an employee and shareholder. His responsibilities included risk management

Pitching to attract investors has become second nature to most entrepreneurs. They make a very attractive pitch deck, they get their financials right, put on the best suit and take on the stage. Ten minutes into the pitch, the blank expression on the investor’s faces ignite that self-doubt they had buried inside, and by the end of the presentation, no funding is secured. This has been the experience for most entrepreneurs, but not all is lost.

While a good pitch deck is essential, the key to success in attracting investor funding is knowing your business. Understanding your industry so well that it gives you a burning passion to want to make it big enough to be an industry leader.

Venture Capitalists don’t invest in businesses solely for the idea, they invest in people. They look for people that understand their business with a burning passion to make it big. Here are some of the things that you need to know about your business:

  1. The problem you are solving.

It is important for an entrepreneur to know the exact problem you intend to solve and who is experiencing it. Clearly state the market opportunity and size.

2. Your solution/Product.

Explain in depth how your product solves the problem and how it is different from other solutions. Differentiation is key. Investors also want to know if you understand how your solution will be produced. Make sure your passion for this solution/product is seen and felt. Remember, they are looking at you, not the slides.

3. Marketing Strategy.

At this point, you want to highlight and map out how you intend on reaching your targeted market and how they will interact with your product or service. Show that you have given this much thought and you understand your market.

4. Money.

Remember that the investors want to see how they will get their money back after investment. So explain clearly how you intend on making money, with realistic projections of future revenue based on your market behavioral expectation. Depending on what stage of development the business is in, any proof of traction or revenue received can be explained here.

5. Growth Strategy.

Scalability is very important when starting a company. A business has to have a product that can be scaled to achieve growth. A growth strategy explains how your product can be multiplied. One way to show how well you know your business is to have a realistic strategy of how you will use the funding to grow the business.

6. Tone.

The tone you use to pitch is very important. Any exaggeration or dry humor could be a dead giveaway that you are nervous and not sure of yourself. Instead, be creative and comfortable, show some personality and passion, this way, even the audience will feel comfortable to follow your presentation.

Knowing your business inside out will help you grow your business through acquiring funding from investors, attracting industry mentors, getting more clients as your credibility increases when people see how well you understand your industry.

─ April 2, 2019