The RISE Startup Series offers weekly tips for startups. Check back every week for a fresh instalment in the weeks leading up to RISE. With three weeks to go, we checked in with the investors coming to RISE to find out what they’re looking for at the event. Read on to hear what they had to say.
One of the biggest perks to attending an event like RISE is the chance to mingle with investors. It can also be the most nerve-racking element.
How do you approach these high-flying investors? And what do you say when you have their attention?
We spoke to some of RISE’s investors to get their tips for startups, so you can keep your cool. Follow their advice and you could have a life-changing meeting in Hong Kong in the near future.
Hans Tung, GGV Capital
Play it risky, play it safe
“Develop a great elevator pitch,” says Hans. Ask yourself the following five questions:
- Who is your customer?
- What is their pain point?
- What is the market size of this opportunity?
- Why is your solution differentiated?
- What makes you uniquely positioned to do this?
If your pitch answers these five questions, you’re on to a winner.
Once you’ve got your elevator pitch down, consider what risks you’re asking the investor to take. Hans says that while VCs are willing to take risks, they generally prefer to limit them to two of the following:
- Market size and readiness
- Team differentiation and readiness
- Business model/capital efficiency
- Entry price versus exit window
Where do the risks in your startup lie? It’s okay to take a risk, but make sure you have a good handle on two of the above factors to differentiate yourself and your opportunity.
Finally, Hans focuses on the importance of having a positive attitude. “Be confident but not arrogant; assertive but pleasant.” Get the balance right and you could be charming your way to some big deals.
Plern Tee Suraphongchai, Venturra Capital
Research is key
Plern Tee is a Partner at Venturra Capital, a firm which controls a $150 million startup fund. For her, approaching investors is all about research. If you approach an investor who simply doesn’t operate in your sector, geography, or stage, you’re just wasting your time.
Instead, take the time to research the investor you want to approach and “strongly establish how your startup fits into that world view,” she says. This way, you can shape your startup and pitch to that particular investor.
Bay McLaughlin, Brinc
Don’t take the machine gun approach
Bay, Co-Founder of the global IoT accelerator Brinc, also stressed the importance of doing your homework before the event. “Approach the investors who are the most likely to invest or have invested in your category before,” rather than simply pitching to every person who walks by with an investor badge.
If you spot an investor who you want to pitch on the floor, “make sure to give them a way out,” says Bay. Don’t start pitching straight away. Ask a question, like, “What area and stage do you normally invest in?” Even if the investor isn’t a good fit for your company, offer to introduce them to startups that do fit their model. “Always remember to give before you take,” Bay says. “It works both ways.” A little good karma never hurt anyone, right?
Helen Wong, Qiming Ventures
Be ready to pitch anywhere, anytime
There’s no such thing as a normal pitch – or normal place to pitch! “Be open to pitching your business plan anywhere, anytime,” says Helen, Partner at Qiming Ventures. “Events like RISE are a good venue for networking and raising awareness for your company.” You might meet an investor at your exhibition stand, on the way to see a speaker, or even on one of our legendary Pub Crawls. No matter where you are during RISE, be prepared to pitch.
It could be the pitch that lands you millions. It happened for Uber in a Dublin pub at Web Summit, it could happen to you in Hong Kong.
Take these tips on board and you’ll be sure to make some valuable new connections at RISE. Good luck!