Q: What questions should entrepreneurs be prepared for investors to ask?
-- Shashi Raj
A: In my experience raising capital, investors have a tendency to ask similar questions to dig into six basic areas which are your team, market, product, outreach, business model and capitalization. In my opinion, there are better questions to ask (which I touch on later) but these are all important areas to cover and you should be prepared to answer:
1. Who is your team?
So start with yourself and your team. If you can effectively sell the investor on why you’re uniquely qualified to solve the problem you’re tackling, they’ll start to lean in and give you a fair listen. Share if you are working with advisors or whether angel investors have already indicated they’d like to invest.
2. What is the market opportunity?
What’s important here is to explain how what you’re doing is different and what uniquely positions you as a market leader. Consider the market or customers from which you will extract direct value to describe the true market size.
3. What is your product and what does it do?
When describing your product it’s essential to explain not only the problem it solves, but how is it tackling the issue differently, and how the difference is big enough to make people care and be competitive.
4. How will you drive awareness and early adoption for your product?
Investors will want to know what marketing and distribution plans are in place to support your product, and do you have any early results to share. Some investors may even ask what is the per-customer-acquisition cost.
5. What is your business model and how do you plan to make money?
In other words, what is the market structure and dynamics and how do these dynamics map against your strategy. Are you considering potential roadblocks such as legal or regulatory issues and are you prepared to address if they apply.
6. How much capital do you need to raise?
How will you use the capital you are raising and what do you expect to achieve with the funds.
As I mentioned above, I’m not a fan of most of these questions, though I agree they help to provide important information. I believe the questions to ask to really get a sense for the potential are what is driving you to see your idea come to life, and does your product capture the imagination. The answer to these questions help investors like myself determine if you truly have the motivation to build a great company -- or have an idea big enough to inspire people and spark a movement.
So when you prepare your deck, think about how you can weave in your motivation when you describe yourself and your team, and before you demo your product, pause and tell a story around how it will impact people’s lives. If you can effectively do this, you’ve got a very good shot at attracting the investor you want.