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As a managing partner of the global accelerator launch Hawaii and an active angel investor, since the world changed in March, I’ve been sold hundreds of virtual platforms – and I’ve seen entrepreneurs make the same mistakes.
I understand that virtual calls can be stressful. You finally have the opportunity to talk to the investor and you do your best to achieve a memorable move … and then the screen freezes, either you are distracted by breaks, or WiFi goes down. It must be really exhausting.
But the truth entrepreneurship it’s all about solving problems. When you’re struggling with a virtual challenge, I’m experiencing your ability to address other, more important issues of your business. Here are seven tips to grab an investor’s attention and keep him during the virtual step.
1. Make a warm introduction.
Just because your meeting is likely to be online, it means your first interaction should be a cold letter. There are many ways to get a warm introduction; it just requires a little more legs. First, search the web to see if you are directly related to the partner you are targeting. If you go on strike, look for partner portfolio companies and reach out to your fellow entrepreneurs. Your peers in entrepreneurial trenches are often willing to help you with entry.
2. Make sure the investor is currently writing checks.
Not all investors now write checks. Submit this conversation in advance and ask if they are currently investing in new companies.
I recently discussed this new reality with one investor. Many investors say it’s a regular business, but in reality they need to maintain capital for their existing portfolio and therefore won’t make new investments. In addition, new investment decisions are likely to take much longer. This investor told me that for his recent investments usually one month of due diligence process lasted for two months or more.
3. Do your homework on the investor.
This is versatile, whether you meet in person or online. Investigate the person you are talking to. One small personal note can indicate that you are paying attention to the person himself at the other end of the line, and it goes a long way. Listen to interviews, search for profiles, meet other companies in the portfolio, view the services of companies and much more.
Personally, I love when entrepreneur mentions our portfolio company, which they really admire. Our portfolio companies are similar to our children; we are proud of them, so flattering them means flattering us. Also, every investor loves to know that you have taken the time to learn about your investment history.
4. Check the equipment and study the software for meetings.
It goes without saying, but it’s shocking how many speakers will first enter Zoom to take a step without familiarizing themselves with the platform. Spending precious minutes on the go doesn’t make a first impression. At Blue Startups we call it “technology IQ test. “If an entrepreneur fails this, we usually pass that opportunity.
For example, last week during a stage meeting a startup company didn’t know how to share a screen in Zoom. While this may seem like a small thing, it is inevitable that we will extrapolate this detail to larger assumptions. Is this person technologically savvy? Do they pay attention to detail? Do they need time to fully prepare?
5. Turn on the video.
In an environment where we face face to face, video experience is very important. The huge part communication nonverbally and we learn a lot about each other by including videos. If that means you have to get up a little earlier to dry your hair and put on a tie, so be it. At the very least, you should skip the drive to the office!
It’s also important to make sure you look professional in these conversations. We had an entrepreneur guiding us out of the closet, and clothes hung behind him. We laughed at that, but the bottom line was that we entrepreneurs didn’t care about the presentation to find a more suitable setting.
6. Make everything alive.
Do not write down the step in advance. It just works to engage an audience, and it’s fraught with complications. Then skip the embedded videos in your presentation; because the audio input in each meeting program is different, it has a high probability of failure.
In the competition for the virtual step, which I assumed last month, the entrepreneurs had three minutes. The clock started working as soon as they appeared on the screen. Because of this, many participants came with pre-booked camps that meet the deadline. However, the recorded step requires a different audio input, so we heard it. In most cases, the entrepreneur had to talk about the video, or stop it and start again, wasting valuable time. Often it left them a minute or so to beat us. These teams were highly praised by the field judges.
7. Duration, follow-up, follow-up.
Again another universal one, but even more important now. Your communication is easily lost in the internet swamp, so be tireless in your own the following measures to move on to the next stage of communication.
I always give my entrepreneurs the same advice on the number of actions to follow: keep an eye on investors until they stop. You can’t talk too much. Don’t be silent, of course, because most investors are just too busy to pay attention to every communication or take the time to respond. Don’t think they’re not interested; just keep trying. While this may seem unpleasant, I am always more impressed by an entrepreneur who goes much further than one who refuses too easily. Persistence is a trait you need to succeed, and there is no better way to achieve it than with enthusiasm and consistency.
Our new reality makes it more important than ever to put your best feet forward in the highly competitive world of a startup. Disruptions in Internet communication will not be allowed, and a second chance is unlikely to be given. As investors tighten their belts around the world, you want to give yourself the best chance of success and not give them reasons to fire you or your company.