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Sunday 2 July 2017

Anatomy of an Angel Investing Pitch session and meeting: Part II The heart of the matter - The business pitches and questions

After the introductory niceties, and required disclaimers such as PS 13/3 statements on HNWI etc or perhaps news of recent rounds, exits and so on, the drama of the pitch and Q&A sessions begins, perhaps the most familiar to external onlookers or newbies.. Up to that point, the businesses have often not had contact on the evening with the syndicate members, perhaps waiting in an adjacent room to get their chance to pitch, to preserve a level playing field. 

It is often under-appreciated how much it takes even to get to pitch to many syndicates. Seeding calls, checklists from the syndicates for staff, and the work to produce a business summary or seeking a formal business plan may whittle as many as 100 potential pitching businesses down to just three-five to present, and even then there are no guarantees. They may have as little as 10 minutes to present, with 5 minutes for questions, although I've seen even shorter pitches in some large "website to live" events with 10-12 businesses.
If you are pitching with an especially strong cohort you may shine a little less brightly than some, or if first up and followed by very strong businesses further along in the progress to profitability ( its rare to see one without at least 12-18 months of revenue at least) suffer the same fate. Some may be relatively better defined or pitched by their respective founders.

In those cases, those angels who showed early interest for due diligence may quickly be distracted by even more alluring prospects of early multiple exits, recent comparable IPOs or such like. Angels have a degree of herd mentality too, or may tend to be influenced by a more experienced angel who has the luxury of an already diversified portfolio or one which is yielding exits as well as more investing opportunities. A little judicious use of the 'scarcity' lever works with even these sophisticated individuals if there is a hint with rapidly growing business that this will be the last angel round before a VC process next time, or that there is a capped investment level at this valuation.

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