There are distinct phases you will need to go through as you work through the funding process. However, the same evaluation areas will be used at each stage of the process – the only difference is in the level of detail.
The areas I will cover are:
- Product / pain point
- Market potential / revenue model
- Competition / barriers to entry
- Execution strategy
- Investment potential
So lets start with product / pain point. In order to engage investors in the funding process, you will need to clearly explain what your company does and what problem or pain point its product/service is addressing. This sounds simple to do but you would be surprised how many applications or pitches I have gone through and at the end have walked away without having a clear idea what the company does.
In describing your company, it often helps to describe the problem you are trying to address. As an example, lets say you are starting a company to make cases for iPods. In this case, you would want to portray the pain point along the lines of:
Apple is renowned for making products that have great industrial design and part of the reason people buy them is how they look
iPods are made to be carried around so can take a lot of abuse
The casing on iPods is prone to scratching
Higher end iPods are expensive
We therefore feel there is a market to provide people with an external case system for iPods that protects the iPod from scratching yet does not detract from the overall look
Having described the pain point, you now must clearly explain how your company is addressing the pain point. With the example above, how many different ideas can you come up with to build a company to address the pain point? For example, maybe you try to develop a revolutionary ‘micro film’ that can cover the iPod and give it greater scratch resistance. Or maybe you look to hire well known artists and have them come up with very fashionable cases and sell them at high prices as limited numbered editions. Or maybe you will develop low cost cases made of 100% recycled materials that look plain but do the job of protecting the iPod in an environmentally friendly manner.
Each business model has its own unique challenges so this is why its important to clearly define what your company is doing so investors know what they are investing in. Most investors will use this as a high level filter. If they do not think the idea is viable or marketable, they will probably not pursue things further. i.e. why would anybody want to invest in something they do not understand or do not believe is a good idea.
One other tip is to keep things very focused. With any company there are probably opportunities for adjunct products, different revenue streams, etc. If your company is just starting out & looking for its first financing, resist the urge to try jam all of this into your company description thinking it will impress investors more to see how broad your company can be. With a start up with limited resources it is going to be hard enough to launch the initial product. Trying to do multiple things at the same time will probably not be feasible and will end up confusing investors as to what your company is.