It was a very ordinary evening, I received a call from a potential angel investor to meet up, my heart was racing, I dusted out my pitch deck and dressed for the occasion. I arrived at the agreed meeting spot, delivered my pitch after I was done he asked a couple of questions which I answered, then this was his response

“Century, today I will invest in your business not just because of your business idea, but because I believe in you, I love your spirit, I am confident you are headed somewhere, it might not be very clear now where, but I am certain you are going somewhere and I want to be a part of that journey”. 

Here I was finally closing the deal after so many nos and making loads of mistakes I was successful, that is why today I will be sharing with you some lessons I learnt during my journey to raise funding to start Endgame. The Strategy Company, with the hope that it will be useful to anyone on the same journey as I was. The first lesson I learnt first-hand from this experience was that;

1. People Invest In People. 

People invest in people first before the business entity. If an investor does not believe in you as an individual or your capacity no matter how awesome your business idea is or plan, they will not invest.

Investors invest largely according to what they see in an entrepreneur.  Who are you, what are your values, what have you done in the past that prepared you to run that new business, “What’s your story? Who’s on your team? What partnerships have you established? Who believes in you, and why?” What is your experience in this market? What are your successes? Your failures?” “What momentum is behind your business? What are your goals? What progress have you made in reaching them?” It is important that you Leverage on your track record and networks and actively seek to build your credibility as an entrepreneur.

2. Your past clients, boss or businesses that may benefit from the success of your new venture can be your potential angel investor.

Typically, most people consider family, friends, well-wishers and mentors as potential Angel investors. An interesting fact that many fail to realize however is, your clients or businesses that stand to benefit from your success are also potential Angel investors. This is true especially if you have a track record in your industry or have provided services as a freelancer, employee or volunteer that is similar to the services that you intend to provide in your new business and due to your performance you can boast of a roster of satisfied clients who are affluent. Why do I say this?

 

You see, your past clients already understand your value proposition, the service you are offering and it’s market demand and opportunity, they are also aware of your track record. This in itself, relieves you greatly from the challenge of trying to convince them of your market value. Another way you can tilt the odds in your favour is making them understand that they will always need your services and chances are that having you grow or scale will be to their advantage because it enhances your ability to solve more problems for them at a larger scale or open up new markets for them.

 

For example, it is much easier for a former bank manager who has led the bank’s payment solutions team and delivered tangible results to secure investment from either the bank or fund managers he has worked with in the past for his new Fintech company on a mission to provide insurance solution targeted at young people, undergraduates etc especially if that business opportunity is not something the bank is willing to pursue at that time.

So, reach out to your past and even present clients, be good to your boss and the people you meet in your place of work, they are all potential investors.  

3. Have a working product, validate your business idea, and secure pre-orders or traction if possible.

It’s much easier to pitch to an investor when you have 10 people willing to pay x amount of money for your product when you launch. If possible try to get pre-orders from family friends, past clients etc. There is nothing that validates an idea than paying customers. Generally, a working product stands a higher chance when pitching to an investor. It is important to have a working product/prototype or service that clearly delivers on your business proposition. 

4. Make a business case as opposed to an emotional one.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to solely leverage on your relationship and choosing to act familiar when pitching or trying to obtain funding from an investor, even if he is your father or best friend, or boss. You must be prepared when speaking to an investor. Ensure you have a strong understanding of your market, competitive advantage and a clear value proposition before pitching. It is also highly recommended that your financials need to be clearly articulated.

 

Lastly, just like with every other journey or experience, there are highs and lows. Be prepared for both approvals and declines alike. I think that one defining characteristic of any entrepreneur worth his/her salt is tenacity/resilience. It’s a badge you would earn on this journey to raise funding for your venture.

5. Do. Not. Give. Up!

Keep reaching out to potential investors till you get a yes!

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