Since its inception in 2011, Natalia Oberti Noguera’s Pipeline Angels investing bootcamp has graduated 300 members who have invested more than $5 million in more than 50 companies via the group’s pitch summit process. Here’s her advice to social entrepreneurs on how to be more appealing to impact investors.
1. Get your team in place.
“A leader isn’t a leader until the first follower arrives,” she says. “If you don’t already have a team in place, who knows if you’re going to be able to gather the people you need to scale? If you think about it, investors are followers, advisors are followers, your first employee, your co-founding team are followers. The more followers you’re able to showcase to the investor, the more they see you are a leader who is able to get people to believe in what you do.”
2. Get honest about the competition.
“I hear so many entrepreneurs say, ‘We’re so revolutionary, first to market, there’s no competition.’ Really? I find it more compelling when an entrepreneur says, ‘Hey, these are the five to seven players in the marketplace, and this is how we are different from each of them,’ because it shows that they have done their research, it shows that they understand what was missing, and then it shows that they get how they are adding value to the space.”
3. Reveal what’s relevant about your personal story.
“I remember judging a pitch event, and at the end, during the Q&A, we found out that this tech-startup founder had a computer science degree from Princeton and had worked at Bitly,” she says. “Knowing that kind of stuff helps — so put it in the pitch. Especially because investing in the startup is about investing in people, that story of who you are is important.”
4. Talk about how your team came to be.
“You and your co-founder, wow did you meet? Did you work at the same place? A lot of investors don’t want to invest in a team that hasn’t ever worked together in the past. It’s like, ‘Drama. What could happen?’ Even if you and your co-founder volunteered at the same place, that’s how you met, or you worked on a project together; if there are those relevant scenarios, they help. Investors can then say, ‘You’re choosing to work with this person again.'”
Rachel is Conscious Company’s former editor-in-chief. Before joining the CCM team, she worked at Backpacker and Wired magazines.