When you’re an entrepreneur trying to fund raise in today’s world...

Times are challenging but the entrepreneurial pursuit doesn’t need to be on pause. We talk to Nicole Denholder, founder and CEO of Next Chapter on pitching in a digital world and what investors are really thinking. Next Chapter is Asia’s first funding ecosystem designed to inspire, educate and connect female founders with savvy investors and strategic advisors.

 When you’re an entrepreneur trying to fund raise in today’s world...

Covid-19 has been disrupting lives and economies around the world and for entrepreneurs, the concern of fundraising during these times of isolation is high. Many are seeking different types of capital injection options from government grants to epidemic-related lending schemes to help them stabilise cash flow and get through this period, which Nicole says, is “Definitely the right move.”

Nicole, what’s the best way to approach the investor search at the moment?

Although this is a difficult period to approach fundraising, for those in the middle of, or starting fundraising preparation, now is the time to clearly define the type of investors that would suit your business amid the change. Write it down and scale it out. The internet is your ally - research who they could be, where specific interests lie and start contacting them. Even if the investment cycle is slowing down, don’t waste this opportunity to build relationships and ask for feedback on your pitch and business. If you’re adapting your business or revenue model, this can be an opportunity to get early feedback from investors, even if you aren’t actively fundraising. Get ahead of the game. Going virtual means that access to the world in many ways could be easier, making your investor pitch available to a much wider audience.

Some accelerators are already going digital which could result in them accepting applications outside of their normal location, so look around for virtual programmes that may not have been accessible before. Leveraging your business community or even joining new ones is also important; for example, here at Next Chapter we’re launching a digital membership community in May to help female founders stay connected to the right people. Make time your gift.

Click the image to download PDF version of Nicole Denholder's Top Tips
Click the image to download PDF version of Nicole Denholder's Top Tips (204KB, PDF)

What’s your advice on how to win a virtual business pitch?

It can be difficult to keep an investors attention as it’s hard to build a rapport through small talk and introductions that would naturally happen at a meeting or pitch event. So the trick is to be efficient and prepared with your presentation. Some tips include:

1. If you can’t be in the office or don’t have a great call background, then create a virtual background with your logo to make your brand stick.

2. If there is more than one founder pitching, then agree in advance to a tight call sheet on who speaks when, timed to the minute. If you’re using virtual backgrounds make sure everyone is coordinated.

3. Consider loading an autocue reader or the matching notes to your presentation on a different tablet/ipad to ensure a smooth pitch delivery. Place it next to your presentation to make sure you don’t miss any key points and can give a very clear and professional presentation – however try not to come across too scripted.

4. Plan ahead and communicate to the audience at the start how you will manage responses to comments coming through on onscreen. Ask someone from your team to assist as it can be very distracting to present and respond at the same time.

The landscape has changed but business needs remain the same, what’s on the mind of investors?

Investors are hesitant in this current climate and are holding on to cash tighter, especially angels and family and friend investors. If they’re looking for opportunities, then the companies that can capitalise on this changing world or are able to demonstrate the ability to ride it out will be top of their list.

There could also be interest in companies that are pivoting to a virtual model and are already showing growth benefits. An example of this would be the digital education sector. Investors will want to see the ability to sustain growth even when a somewhat normal working environment returns. That being said, the next 6-12 months will be a difficult time for any fundraising activity.

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