Straight From The Source: Entrepreneurs, Here's How Investors At LEAP 2023 Suggest You Should Pitch To Them

From ensuring that your conversation is to the point, to doing your homework on the investors you're interested in approaching, here's what five investors attending LEAP 2023 had to share.

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From February 6-9, 2023, the Riyadh Front Expo Centre in Saudi Arabia will be hosting LEAP, a global tech conference that will gather leading tech companies, investors, speakers, and professionals from around the world to explore disruptive future technologies. Such an event would thus provide the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors to interact and connect, but just how does one approach an investor?

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We asked the same question to four investors who will be attending LEAP 2023, and here's what they had to share.

Daniel Bernard, Investor and Venture Partner, Mindspring Capital (United Kingdom)

Sourec: Mindspring Capital

A sports industry investor, public speaker, strategist, and entrepreneur workshop leader Daniel Bernard says he's always on the lookout for disruptive innovations that can serve the ever changing needs of users. First and foremost, he urges entrepreneurs to make sure that their innovative ideas align with the field their preferred investor works in. "Clarity above all, and please do your homework…as much as I am sure that biotech and agritech innovations can be incredible and life-changing, I have no idea about those areas and, as a consequence, do not invest in them," he says. "I am all about sports and sports technology."

Bernard also advises entrepreneurs to be crisp and confident in their pitching skills. "Get to the point and don't beat around the bush," he says. "In many cases, you may get no reply. Don't feel too shy about reaching out a second time just prior to the conference to try and touch base and arrange a meeting. The second thing I would advise is to be ordered and organized. This includes solid follow up after the event for any meetings you have had, but also for the meetings you wanted to have but didn't manage to arrange."

And while the fear of rejection often holds many entrepreneurs back, Bernard points towards the silver lining that comes with such an occurrence. "Remember that if you are looking for investment, your aim is to get an answer quickly, even if it is 'no.'" he says, "'No' is far better than a 'maybe' or a total unknown which leads through many calls to an eventual disappearance. So, be clear with what you want and give the investor room to answer clearly. And most importantly, don't be affraid. Fear never helped anyone."

Romanna Dada, Head of Investment, PwC (UAE)

Source: PwC

A serial entrepreneur, venture capital expert, and UK-trained barrister with over 1,000 pieces of published press on founded companies, Romanna Dada is no stranger to the importance of forging profitable connections in business. On what she hopes to gain out of attending LEAP 2023, Dada says it is an ideal event to "share insights on trends, network and meet new and old clients and partners." But when it comes to the interactions between entrepreneurs and investors, Dada highlights that there are some strategic ways to keep in mind. "The side events are a great way to build relationships with key investors, join as many as possible and go through the attendee list pre-event to set yourself up for 121 meetings during LEAP," she says. "Do your research and be prepared with product demos and presentations ready!"

Dada's other key piece of advice is very reminiscent of what Bernard says as well. "Reach out in advance to set-up slots and share any materials in advance, try to keep meetings to 15 mins and do your research to demonstrate a clear understanding of the strategy of the fund you're pitching to," she shares.

Related: Global Tech Community To Converge In Riyadh For LEAP On February 6-9, 2023

Nick Cooney, Managing Partner, Lever VC (US)

Source: Lever VC

Nick Cooney is the founder and Managing Partner of Lever VC, a US-based venture capital fund that invests in early-stage companies in the alternative protein segment. To those who aren't aware, alternative proteins are plant-based proteins used by consumers who prefer an eco-friendly alternative to animal-based protein. And according to Cooney, LEAP 2023 will prove to be a great starting point to tap into the region's scope for this area. "There is clearly great and increasing opportunity for the area our fund Lever VC invests in -the future of protein, including alternative protein and 'upgraded' animal protein- in the GCC region, so it will be a great opportunity to further build our network with key players in or interested in the category in the region," Cooney says. "I'll be speaking at the event so contributing a bit from that angle, but primarily I hope to contribute and learn through conversations with others. On the flip side, I'm looking to connect with entrepreneurs from the region who are interested in the category and considering launching new companies in the space."

On how that last statement can come to fruition, Cooney advises entrepreneurs to not hold back in how they approach investors. "If you want to be effective, the more ways the better!" he says. "Try reaching out by email and LinkedIn in advance to see if you can schedule. On the day of the event, feel free to walk right up and introduce yourself to anyone. But know your audience and what they do. Many investors, including us at Lever VC, have specific areas and stages that we invest in, so double check to make sure a fund probably invests in the area you're looking at launching a startup before spending your and their time trying to connect."

Finally, Cooney reminds entrepreneurs to stick to to-the-point conversations. "Keep it short with 3-5 sentences," he says. "That will make it more likely to be read and replied to. Lastly, attach or offer a deck. Investors will want to review a deck before taking the time to speak directly or on a call to make sure it's a potential fit and therefore worth the time."

Tim Ringel, Investor and Advisory Board Member, Adit Ventures (US)

Source: Adit Ventures

"LEAP being hosted in the MENA region allows for regional representatives and innovators to participate, opening a broader platform for startups and venture capital at large, as many MENA entrepreneurs don't make it to US and EU conferences very often." Tim Ringel raises this important point when discussing the significance of an event such as LEAP for entrepreneurs. As a part of US-based venture capital investment firm Adit Ventures, Ringel says he is primarily interested in already scaled companies and business models from local markets that can be exported into Europe and North America.

But when it comes to approaching investors, Ringel says there is no rule of thumb as such. "The best way to approach investors will be to connect on platforms like LinkedIn prior to LEAP and make sure meetings are set before the conference starts as schedules will get really busy," he says. "Having said that, I have met some of the most exciting entrepreneurs building companies that I ended up investing into, randomly at networking events, in hotel lobby's and at the hotel bar." Ringel is also quick to point out that face-to-face meetings often offer more value than simply reaching out to an investor online. "It helps a lot when an investor is not necessarily approached 'coldly' over LinkedIn or other 'non emotional' channels," he says. "It is always better to enter an investor conversation through a personal reference or an existing connection between the two parties involved. As many young entrepreneurs don't have a network of investors it is even more crucial for them to form an advisory board that does not only consist of their supporters from the past and business angels or product specific friends. Every startup should have at least one board member that adds benefit to their fundraising efforts in the future."

Regardless of the venue you meet an investor at, however, Ringel reminds entrepreneurs to pay attention to the most minute details. "In an environment where investors get pitch decks on their table every day and have a limited amount of time to understand, analyze and evaluate investment opportunities, it's absolutely crucial that entrepreneurs communicate the unique selling points of their idea and the company really well," he advises. "Lot's of entrepreneurs look at their businesses from a lens of what they want it to be but not necessarily from a perspective of how that will be achieved specifically. A clear vision, mission and executional plan helps investors dramatically to interact quicker and more precise with their questions. A bit like the principle of 'Don't tell me what you want to do, but tell me how you will do it' and 'if you know how you will do it, why haven't you done it already.'"

Teddy Himler, Global Investment Partner, Antler (US)

Source: Antler

As the Global Investment Partner at US-based global early-stage venture capital firm Antler, Teddy Himler has previously witnessed the opportunities LEAP offers to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. "I attended LEAP 2022, and was blown away by the momentum around all aspects of the tech, media, and telecom landscape in KSA," he says. "From some of the most influential companies in the world to the most exciting young startups, LEAP gives investors and operators alike a glimpse into a fast emerging tech ecosystem. Everytime I go to KSA, I am amazed by the progress, particularly of the startups. The startup stage highlights the fast-emerging leaders across e-commerce, fintech, artificial intelligence and enterprise software."

When asked how entrepreneurs can strike up a conversation with investors, Himler says, "I think the best interactions are natural and aim to find some mutual benefit. Try to find some common ground, a shared experience, a common friend. This will help build the foundation for a long professional relationship." And that certainly appears to be the same approach he shares for reaching out to him as well. "I'll be at the startup stage, and will be speaking on a panel about emerging technology ecosystems," he says. "So, just introduce yourselves and find a common interest."

To join over 100,000 investors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, decision-makers and tech enthusiasts at LEAP 2023, register for your free ticket here.

Related: Talking Shop With LEAP 2023 Speakers Baroness Karren Brady, Gitanjali Rao, And Steven Bartlett