Last month the University of Sussex Business Angels group held its inaugural pitch day. We brought together a group of angel investors, including first-time and “investment curious” individuals, with the aim of helping founders from the wider University of Sussex community kickstart and grow their businesses.

It was great to see our first five successful pitches, and witness first-hand the enthusiasm in the room for supporting our community.

Not all pitching events are quite like ours, and not all investors are looking for exactly the same things, but there are common factors that can help to make any pitch more effective. Here are five key pieces of advice I’ve learned from watching businesses present:

Structure your pitch – this may seem a little prescriptive, but there are certain things that all investors want to know about when they receive a pitch. Here’s my suggested structure to make sure that you hit all the right notes:

  • Introduction – who are you, what do you do, what are you asking for? Be succinct.
  • Problem – what is the main problem you solve for your customers? What data or testimonials back it up?
  • The Opportunity – use market research data: how big is the market, and which part of it do you intend to address?
  • Solution – describe and demonstrate your product or service as simply as possible. What sets you apart?
  • Business Model – B2B or B2C? What are the revenue streams, pricing strategy and rationale for them?
  • Competitive Landscape – help the investors visualise your competition and what the key differences are between you.
  • Competitive Advantage – what’s your USP or differentiation, and how will you sustain it?
  • Go To Market – your target audience, distribution channels, marketing and sales strategy.
  • Traction/Roadmap – product traction, development milestones, customer validation, awards and patents.
  • Financial Forecast – when will you start generating revenue? How much do you expect to make each year?
  • Team – who are your founding team? What are your background, experience and achievements? Who is advising you, who do you plan to hire?
  • The Ask – how much are you raising and at what valuation? How will you use the funds, and what milestones will you use to measure success?

Practice, practice, practice – there’s simply no substitute for being well rehearsed and refined.

100 Questions– try and come up with 100 questions that a potential investor could possibly ask you. You’ll notice themes emerging; this should direct what you include in your slide deck.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say what you say – your body language and tone of voice are key. Be positive, be confident, be yourself. This is your time to shine! If you feel nervous, in your internal dialogue, tell yourself that the nervousness you feel is actually excitement – reframing one high energy state for another.

Ultimately, I believe it boils down to two things – do they like you? And do they like your business? Answer yes to both those questions and you stand a chance of starting a conversation with an investor. From there, it’s a case of backing up your pitch to bring money into your business and fuel its growth.

Find out more about the University of Sussex Business Angels here.