If you’re looking to raise money from external investors, at some point you’ll need to put yourself – or more importantly your business – in front of them. And as you’re no doubt aware, first impressions matter. We spoke to a few investors to get the lowdown on what they’re really looking for when they cast that first glance.  

Sari Azout, Level Ventures 
Focus: intersection of science and tech

‘I want evidence that you know how to capture your customer’s attention. In the absence of metrics, I first visit your website. If I can’t figure out what your company does – the product and value proposition – within 10 seconds of visiting, I give up. Being able to explain what your product does in a clear, compelling way indicates clarity of vision, and that’s the first thing I judge – whether it’s in how you introduce your company in an email or how you lay out your value proposition on your website.’

More from Sari: What do investors want to see post-Covid?

Bethany Greer, Bethnal Green Ventures 
Focus: tech for good

‘I’m often meeting companies at MVP or even pre-product stage, so I try to be imaginative about their potential. I first of all determine if they fit our investment focus, try and get a sense of their ambition from a commercial and impact perspective, and find out what their personal drivers are by scanning through a pitch deck or website. The more clearly they’re able to communicate how their solution addresses the problem, the better; bonus if they've done any initial testing or conducted a user survey. I also consider if they’ll provide a valuable contribution to the wider BGV community.’

Cody McCauley, Bloomberg Beta
Focus: making business work better, machine learning and the future of work

‘It’s crucial that I’m able to quickly understand what the business does, and why now is the right time to build it. As I parse through any materials, I want to see this outlined in a clear and concise way. If the company is launched, I like to see a quick rundown of any notable traction/metrics. If I come across a company and want to learn more, I'll scan the internet for any info. I'll also check if I have any close mutual connections with the founder – they’re a great source to leverage for intros.’

Meera Clark, Obvious Ventures
Focus: reimagining trillion-dollar industries through a world positive lens

‘Our initial impression comes down to two variables – team and TAM (total addressable market). Accordingly, much of my initial reads on a business come from a company’s or customer experience. It is through this first impression that I begin to form a point of view on a founder. Can they sell to a customer? Can they excite and engage a future employee? Is their vision clear and capable of exciting follow-on investors down the line? This clarity of thought is critical in leaders.’

A version of this article was published in the Courier Weekly newsletter. For more useful stories, tips, tricks and simply good advice, sign up here.

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