Our experience pitching at HKBAN’s IMG was fantastic. We were lucky to attend the event at a very sweet moment for our company, since we had just confirmed investment interest from other sources and therefore we had no pressure to get an outcome from the event. As a result, we went there to share our story, our vision and the exciting progress that was giving us great validation to move ahead. And probably because we did not need an outcome and we could focus on just explaining what we were doing without any added pressure, we delivered a great pitch! Personally I think it was better than any other we had done before.
The result was immediate: great positive feedback with lots of interest from potential investors that understood our business and could add amazing strategic value moving forward. That strategic value, beyond just the investment itself, weighed a lot on our decision to open up space in our investor pool for some HKBAN members to join. We even decided to split the funding round in two parts, one was closed immediately combining some external investors and HKBAN members and the other one we agreed to leave open a bit longer (despite already having external investors willing to join) pending the decision of some key potential investors we had met through HKBAN (and we are currently in the process of closing also that part of the funding).
Now, this was not an overnight success but the culmination of many months of hard work. If you wait to start pitching and looking for investment to the moment when you need it, then you are most probably going to suffer.
My recommendation to any StartUp that might need funding down the line is to start NOW, when you still don’t need it or your business is still very early stage, with not enough validation yet. First start networking, as much as you can. Become part of the Startup community, go to events, participate, get yourself known, share with fellow founders and listen and learn from what they do. Then, start attending public pitches (Cocoon Pitch competition for example) and start pitching yourself (in competitions or pitch to investors/groups of investors that could be interested to hear very early stage Startups, even if you are not interested in getting funding from them).
Ideally, though, you should use all this as training because normally the deal offers you will receive as a very early stage business in Hong Kong are not worth considering (I might be wrong, though). So why pitch if you are going to reject the offers? Because you will receive precious feedback from real investors that know what they are talking about. Listen carefully and improve your pitch, find out your weakness and the common investor concerns about your company and find a way to ease them, learn to anticipate the questions and have a ready answer and grow your pitching confidence and style. That will take time, a few months, but on the meantime you continue growing your business and hopefully achieve some key validation metrics that let you move to the next stage.
And then, once you have validation and you have finetuned your pitch, move to the investors/groups of investors you think would be ideal for you. For us, HKBAN IMG turned out to be a great match and the great thing about them is that they have members from almost any industry you can think of, so you ought to find somebody that understands what you do and might be interested to join. You have one shot every time, so make it count. And if it does not work out, don’t blame it on the investors, keep as great a relationship with them as you can, and keep them regularly updated on your company performance. Never give up, investors sometimes need time to familiarize themselves with you and your idea, and somebody that might not be willing to invest today, might be first in line a few months later.
This is my story and my advice, surely others might disagree… At the end of the day, just follow your instincts and never forget: Success is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration! So… Back to work! ☺
Alexis Bautista – Founder & CEO Kokonuzz Ltd.
http://alexisnuts.tumblr.com/ (just started my personal Blog!)
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Alexis KOKONUZZ – Founder & Creative Director
Unit 122, 1/F Innocentre, 72 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, HK
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