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This is how founders get an appointment with an investor

During a workshop, the question arose how to talk to a potential investor in order to get an appointment for an interview – for example after a pitch. In the following I would like to give a suggestion on how to have a “normal” conversation.

When do potential investors get in touch with a founder? Such conversations usually arise in “harmless” situations, for example after a pitch event over a drink at the bar. But how do you deal with the situation profitably?

Lack of preparation: That’s why the appointment with an investor doesn’t work

I often experience that founders are not prepared for such discussions. The reason could be that their thoughts are still on their supposedly actual task: “selling” their company as part of a pitch. In fact, it would be better to engage in normal conversation.

Let’s briefly imagine the situation: An investor and a founder meet at the bar. The investor heard the founder’s pitch and found it interesting.

Now he begins the conversation: “I saw her on stage earlier. You introduced your company to XYZ. It’s exciting what a cheap solution they found for this complex problem. I liked it a lot!” What would be a meaningful answer to this beginning of the conversation?

The conversation comes to a halt

The founder could now say thank you. After all, she was praised. A thank you would be the most natural thing in the world. However, that would only be of limited help. After all, she would like to continue talking to the investor and ultimately make an appointment with him. It is therefore important to continue the conversation in a meaningful way, but not to fall straight into the house with the door.

In the context of start-up workshops, I recommend that the participants take up the topic of the investor themselves in order to lay the foundation for the further process. To do this, it is repeated and the investor’s question is reflected back. In the example above, this could look like this: “Thank you very much, I’m very happy. We have also carefully prepared. May I ask you what exactly you liked?”

This is how it works with the appointment: The conversation is pushed further

This “turning around” of the initial question drives the flow of the conversation further and does not come to a standstill. If the investor now replies: “I particularly liked…”, then one could reply: “It’s nice that you say that, because we added exactly this point to our presentation because we found it so important. May I ask you: did you notice anything else in the presentation?”

As a rule, the investor will be happy if he can help the founder and will say something about it. This “conversation game” can be pushed a little further, but it shouldn’t be drawn out too much.

Rather, you should get to the point at a suitable point: “I would be happy if you could tell me a little more about this point because it is so important for us. Do you have in the coming week [Tag] half an hour?”

Appointment with an investor: A simple technique for any conversation initiative

This simple technique increases the chance of an appointment with the investor without the founder having to “dislocate” herself in particular. It is only important that the investor’s initiative for discussion is taken up and continued. Incidentally, this works in a similar way when the initiative comes from the founder herself.

In this case, the starting point of the conversation should be well thought out – for example based on previous research on the investors present (if this information is known). In an informal situation, for example, you can approach the investor at the bar and ask him: “Thank you for listening to me today. May I ask you a question, since I read that you are familiar with…?”

In the rarest of cases I have experienced that a rejection comes here. If the investor offers to answer, then all that remains is to continue the conversation as described in order to go into more detail in a personal appointment after a short time.

Important: Always remember that most investors want to talk to several founders and that you are interested in a personal appointment.

These conversation starters can lead to the investor appointment

There is only one question left: How can you prepare for such a conversation? For this purpose, I have put together 25 conversation starters, based on investors, with which founders can practice continuing a conversation according to the scheme shown above.

To do this, they should take the initial annotation, play it back to the investor, and then query a new aspect.

  1. What inspired you to start this company?
  2. How did you come up with your business idea?
  3. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as you grow your business?
  4. What is your vision for the future of your company?
  5. What are your thoughts on the current market landscape?
  6. In your opinion, how will your company develop in the next five to ten years?
  7. How does your company stand out from the competition?
  8. How do you go about building and leading your team?
  9. What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned as a founder?
  10. How do you align the needs of your customers with the needs of your investors?
  11. What are your top priorities for the next year?
  12. How do you intend to use the funds raised?
  13. What metrics do you use to measure success?
  14. How do you plan to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market?
  15. What is your biggest differentiator when it comes to your product or service?
  16. Can you explain your customer acquisition strategy to me?
  17. How do you plan to scale your business?
  18. What is your biggest concern when it comes to your business?
  19. As a founder, how do you deal with risks?
  20. What experience do you have in your industry or market?
  21. How do you approach innovation and how do you stay ahead of trends?
  22. What is your approach to building relationships with customers and stakeholders?
  23. What potential challenges do you see on the horizon for your company?
  24. What is your exit strategy for your company?
  25. How do you think the role of technology will evolve in your industry or market?

One last note

Of course, this technology will not automatically lead to an investment. But that’s not the goal at all, because that only happens in the rarest of cases right after the first pitch.

However, founders can create an opportunity to get a personal appointment with potential investors. There they can then shine and thus increase the chance of success. And that’s ultimately what it’s all about.

I wish you a lot of fun practicing – and I look forward to further suggestions and comments in the comments to this article.

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