An entrepreneur looking to boost or expand her business needs all the support she can get and this includes opportunities to woo investors. Regardless of what great story is told or presentation made, investors need specific items for consideration, said Gillian Charles-Gollop, CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Executive Director, Corporate Investment Banking and Advisory.
Speaking at the Caribbean Women in ICT Power Lunch and Pitch hosted by CANTO on July 23, Charles-Gollop offered the audience tips on best steps to attract an investor. CWIC is the culmination of a women’s entrepreneurship programme facilitated by SmartTerm, a Caribbean e-learning solutions provider. Its aim is to share candidly with six young Tobagonian women entrepreneur finalists what investors are looking for in a business pitch.
Charles-Gollop’s presentation included important checklist items. First, she said, you have to get the investor to see the business as a good opportunity, with clear, concise delivery in the first five minutes of the conversation. “However, there are key fundamentals that prudent investors will look for,” she added.
Return on Investment (ROI) and payback are just as important as the initial pitch and a business plan and financial projections would provide support to presenting positive ROIs and payback, she noted. In addition, an investor would like to see the uniqueness of the product – that special element that would make it stand out from the competition.
“Keep in mind that investors will be assessing whether your product or service is worth consideration and whether the opportunity is a financially viable one,” stressed Charles-Gollop. “A really seasoned, experienced investor will be able to determine very early on whether a pitch is worth further effort or consideration.”
Preparation of the pitch should focus on key areas that would provide context and framework to keep the investor engaged as he or she is considering a strategic fit and potential benefits. But most of all, she added, an investor seeks proof of success. Data was very crucial in this part of the deliberation, Charles-Gollop said.
“You have to show the ability to demonstrate your product acceptance in the market or the demographics of your customer base as good reasons for an investor to pay attention,” she said. “If you are offering solutions – whether a product or service – can you demonstrate to an actual problem solved?”
She noted the entrepreneur must also be aware of the possibility that the investor may consider the competitor that has less risk and better returns. But a business plan, if it’s worth its salt, should factor key elements that would answer such concerns.
Even with the checklist noted and executed, the most important element of wooing the investor is trust.
“Character and credibility are fundamental factors,” Charles-Gollop said. Citing Stephen Covey’s The Speed of Trust, she outlined the importance of trust in business interactions. Integrity in business as an entrepreneur is important to build trust with partners. Integrity is being honest, authentic, telling the truth and leaving the right impression. For example, are you overselling your product or service? Are you aware of your product limitations or your skill sets? Intent allows the entrepreneur to ensure there is clarity in motive/objective and her actions demonstrate the same. Capability presents the opportunity to demonstrate how the entrepreneur is driving this business to success and the prerequisite skills needed. Results show what has been achieved. These four elements, she said, are the ideal traits which are reflected in the business pitch that may convince an investor to put his (or her) money where it deserves to be.
At this event, CIBC FirstCaribbean also awarded prizes for the top three pitches.
Also part of the Canto experience, Charles-Gollop presented at the forum “How technology is transforming business – A look at transformation in the Energy, Health, Finance and Aviation Industries.” (PR)