For many entrepreneurs, getting the chance to pitch to a room of investors is a huge opportunity. But is it worth your time and effort if you don’t attract an investor?
Why should a company participate in a pitch event?
Pitching is great for fine-tuning your business plan. It’s not just the pitch itself, but in the preparation for it. When you start thinking about what investors are looking for – an innovative product that stands out from competitors, strategic sales and marketing, solid and coachable team, and realistic financial projections – it provides the incentive you need to tackle those topics so you can address them confidently and honestly. Even if you never pitch, this clarity in your business plan is invaluable.
And if you don’t land a deal?
There’s so much more than the deal. Of course it’s disappointing, but if you’re at the right meeting, with the right kind of people in the room, the networking and collective knowledge should be worth the price of admission.
Is that why you keep such close tabs on the NCN event guest list?
Exactly. More does not equal better. I think one of the reasons that roughly 50% of the presenting companies land a deal after our meetings is because we focus on finding the right match of companies and investors. Luckily, we have a very large network of investor companies, ranging from strategics like Smuckers and DSM, to VCs and family offices. That makes it easier for us to get the right investors in the room for the companies that are presenting. Of course, the investors see the value because they know we take a critical look at the companies before we select who will present. So the conditions are right for mutually-beneficial partnerships. Sometimes it takes a few months, but the conversations that start at these meetings are often a turning point in the journey of a business.
But not landing a deal has to sting a bit? How can companies overcome that?
Obviously, most companies are looking for investment to help them grow. So the investment deals that come from the meetings are always exciting. But there’s also a lot to be gained from doing the pitch itself and getting feedback on your overall presentation. That will go a long way in other pitches and sales presentations.
But even if there’s no deal per se, many companies walk away with different kinds of partnerships that have just as much if not more benefit to them, like finding a distributor or a major client. The experience, network, and insights of the people in the room — and they are very willing to share it — is a huge game changer for these companies.
Finally, it’s important to remember it’s not personal. Rejection comes in all forms in business. Learning how to handle rejection and to learn from the experience is just part and parcel of running a business.
What advice do you have for presenting companies?
Be honest. The investors in the room don’t expect you to have all the answers. Be prepared, know your stuff, but don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. It will all come out in the due diligence. The preparation that the mentors provide in the lead up to the pitch will help you address the kind of issues that an investor will ask.
Also, the event in Canada is a partnership with Natural Products Canada. Not every pitch event has this kind of built-in support before, during, and after the meeting. Canadian companies are lucky to have this resource, and they should take full advantage of it.
The Nutrition Capital Network-Natural Products Canada Meeting is June 27-28. The deadline for applications is May 17, 2018. Learn more here.