Our thanks to Conor Sheridan (MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2014) and Shahryar Barati (Weekend MBA 2019) who recently joined us for an alumni lunchtime panel session. The event, attended by students and alumni, was aimed at budding entrepreneurs who want to learn more about the startup ecosystem and how to raise funds. It was a perfect opportunity to gain inspiring insights from those who have ‘been there, done that’.
The speakers discussed their experiences of pitching for investment, the dos and don’ts, and their top tips.
Shahryar Barati is COO of Capital Pilot, an investability rating agency for startups and scale ups, which combines human insight, analytics and sophisticated algorithms to produce comprehensive assessments.
Shahryar, and the team at Capital Pilot have vetted over 1000 startups. He discussed the mistakes founders make on their decks and financials, as well as advice to help improve your chances of getting funding. In order to maximising your investability potential, Shahryar recommended ensuring your target market is strong, there is a business opportunity for your product/idea, that it is scalable and it can be executed effectively.
He shared common areas of weakness that many startups fall into, which include:
- Articulation of investment proposition
- Competitiveness of the landscape
- Proof of market approach to strategy
- Quality of presentation of traction
- Startup experience
- Clarity and detail of financial model
His top tips for advice was to make sure your presentation and proposition are effective and crisp, following the 9 second rule.
It’s not just about the presentation, it is about having a strong proposition and being able to articulate it as clearly as possible.
Conor shared this startup journey experiences and how he successfully raised funding over £2m in funding. He covered the key questions you need to ask yourself in advance, so that you can understand the journey before you begin - including how the type of business you are starting affect the type of financial capital you can access, your attitude towards growth and sharing ownership and control, and the risk involved. He recommended finding a mentor to help guide you and provide advice, preferably someone who has been through the process. His advice on meeting your first investor was to:
Speak to other founders and CEOs that you have access to, find out who they have in their networks who can support you or provide advice. This approach creates a more symbiotic and less transactional relationship, which will provide a good starting point.
Our thanks to Jack Mulcahy (Global MBA 2020), Freelance Talent Advisor and Consultant, for organising and chairing the event.