Medical devices. Diagnostics. Therapeutics. There is no shortage of innovations out there that entrepreneurs are touting for investment. Since launching Accel-Rx in 2014, we’ve seen our fair share of up and coming start-ups in health sciences that are looking for funding to take their idea from conception to commercialization.
In total, we’ve screened 200 plus early-stage health science start-ups across Canada, selecting 10 for investment. In the high-risk field of health sciences investing, Accel-Rx aims to “de-risk” young companies giving them an increased chance of success. We provide funding and expertise to help them navigate the journey from being a privately funded seed stage company to an investor-ready opportunity that will attract that next stage of critical capital.
If you are one of those aspiring entrepreneurs seeking funding from various sources, what does it take to make a successful ask? Here are my tips for making the perfect pitch:
- Tell a Story – Investors chose companies they get excited about. Right from the get-go, make your presentation interesting. Tell a story, tell it simply and tell it well. Don’t get lost in the jargon and don’t underestimate the knowledge of investors. They are screening companies all the time and have likely seen one similar to yours.
- Differentiate Yourself – Be clear about the differentiating features of your technology or company. How do you separate yourself from the competition? Is your product safer, more effective, more accurate, less expensive, one-of-a-kind? Share compelling evidence to back up your claims.
- Keep It Short – A long presentation is not a better presentation. Investors make decisions based on first impressions. Keep to your points. Know what you want to say and then say it clearly.
- Sell the Team – Behind every great product is a team of people that make it happen, so don’t forget to highlight them, too. Whether that’s your management team or scientific advisors, think about who investors might know on your team that provides instant validation of why they should listen to you.
- Know Your Runway – You need to be able to articulate your plan and what your best guess is on how much it will cost. Chances are you are low on the numbers, but if you are clear on what you need to accomplish then getting the right numbers comes much more easily. A wishy-washy plan is easily outed, so do your homework. You can get good intel from your audience, but they won’t waste their time if you haven’t tried to think things through.
- Test It Out – Practice, practice, practice – even with people that you aren’t targeting – until you get it right. Equally important, test out your assumptions with as many knowledgeable people as you can before you present to your key targets.
During my long career in health sciences, I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the best and worst start-up pitches and have also been the one pitching to raise funds for my own ventures. Speaking from personal experience, perfecting your pitch may take many iterations, with lots of trial and error along the way. But rest assured, with ongoing feedback and tweaking, you will find that sweet spot.
An Executive Perspective on the Perfect Pitch, by Natalie Dakers, Founding President & CEO, Accel-Rx
In addition to screening start-ups for Accel-Rx’s portfolio, Natalie Dakers has also been a judge for various funding competitions such as the 2019 New Ventures BC Competition that awards cash and prizes to the best new start-ups in British Columbia.