New report from The Flywheelers draws on insights from Insight Partners, Lightrock, Partech and Element Ventures.
Today, The Flywheelers, the specialist comms agency for high-growth startups and scaleups, launches new research into what technology startup and scaleup founders can do to raise their profile and boost their attractiveness with investors.
The report draws on interviews with Elizabeth van den Berg of Insight Partners, , Martin Karschkes of Lightrock, Keji Mustapha of Partech, Joanna Wlazlak of Element Ventures and angel investor, Andreas Wuchner, to outline the key considerations for founders that will help them stand out in this difficult market.
Commenting within the report, Andreas Wuchner shares that, “The most common barrier for converting a great idea into a thriving business is the founder. Investors have less appetite for risk in the current market. That means founders must invest in building an external profile and the communication skills that will give investors the confidence in them, their ideas, and their absolute commitment to making it a success.”
Be a leader, not a technologist – Founders need to communicate beyond their vision for the technology. They need to show they can get people excited about the opportunity – both investors and their (future) team – and have the ability and ambition to deliver business outcomes.
Know how to tell the story – The story is at the heart of a founder’s ability to present themself and their business as an investable opportunity. The contributors outlined the importance of focusing on the problem that a solution solves for its target audience and the business outcome from resolving it, rather than the technology itself. Storytelling must also balance “blue sky” thinking with clear metrics – particularly in the current environment where European investors are more concerned about downside.
Establish your personal profile – One of the greatest challenges that investors perceive for new founders is awareness. With competition for capital high, the value of “being noticed” in the media and at industry events is increasing.
Commenting in the report, Keji Mustapha, Global Director, Brand & Community at Partech shares: “As a startup founder, your mission is to bring something to life that isn’t already there. It’s great to put it on your own blog, but ultimately if no one knows you, or your company, the likelihood of them stumbling on your blog is slim”.
“PR definitely helps attract investors,” Lightrock’s Martin Karschkes asserted in the report. “While we have a good understanding of market participants, sometimes you read an article and that’s where you find an interesting company.”
Build your external network – The importance of a network to investors cannot be underestimated as it shows the founder has the connections to support their sales pipeline. Many early-stage investors will look at a founder’s social networks – particularly LinkedIn – for evidence.
Social media can also be proactively used to build a network and start relationships with investors, as Element Ventures’ Joanna Wlazlak commented in the report, “Twitter is particularly interesting in the VC community. It’s a great place to engage with VCs on a content level rather than through raising, especially if you have a particular problem you’re solving.”
Show personality – One of the most important aspects that came through in every conversation was that founders don’t lose their personality and authenticity as they build their external profile. Investors want to see authenticity and recommend founders play to their strengths and bring in people that compliment them.
Commenting on the research, Kate Baldwin, Founder & MD of The Flywheelers, says: “Storytelling and communications not only play an important role in boosting awareness and establishing credibility in a company’s brand, but also that of its founders. In this competitive investment market, it’s important that founders reflect on the best strategy they can take to build their own authentic, personal profile to boost their attractiveness when they come to seek investors.”