What kind of paperwork should be done before one approaches an investor,” I was asked. For starters, everything is electronic – there’s hardly any “paperwork” nowadays! Jokes apart, you still need to prepare yourself well before you consider approaching a prospective investor. Here’s my top five:
Get it all clear in your own head – your product offering, what it is all about, how it addresses the problem that is faced by your customer, how big your market is, and what you are going to do with the funds you receive. Revise, crystallize and put it on paper.
Do your homework:
Smart entrepreneurs know which investors are interested in their sector, and they keep a close watch on them – which are the companies they have funded, what stage of funding they are going for, and so on. And if the funding has gone to a competitor, they stay away. VCs and funding agencies also express their areas of interest; why waste time dealing with requests from sectors they don’t want to invest in?
Your first document to prospective investors should be short and sweet. Go to the first point above. Once you have put it on paper and crystallized it, send it to the investors. Once they show interest, the next stage is to talk about your business and market in detail, introduce your team, and discuss the financials. Next is a series of legal paperwork and the compliance guys take over from here.
Read the investor’s mind:
Basically, the investors would like to know how confident you are in solving the problem and what your plan is if you don’t get funding. It is easier to show that there are customers for your product, rather than only imagine that people will buy it. That is why some traction makes it easier for the investors to get the real picture.
You have to see how your venture looks like to a person who is on the other side – investor, customer, compliance officer, and so on. Often, entrepreneurs look at different angles but get obscure about the investor’s side. Look at international-standard templates for preparing your brief for investors; check and double check everything before you put it on paper; and don’t forget, ultimately it is all about communication.
(As told to Prerna Raturi)