Investors want to de-risk their investments and the more you can help them, the more likely you are going to see the colour of their money. Here are a few tips to help improve your chances of securing funding for a technology start-up or business:
1. Management: Make sure you have the right skill sets and can prove your capability to deliver. Investors like to see that the team in place (including any outsourced suppliers) have proven experience delivering the type of technology proposition you are seeking funding for. Knowledge of the market that you are addressing is also critical.
2. Specification & Costing - your investment proposal will be significantly de-risked if you can provide a functional and/or technical specification that has been validated and costed out for the initial phases of development. Summarise this in a product road map that shows milestones of design, prototyping, development, testing, and launch as well as longer term opportunities for growth.
3. Execution Control - Investors will pay particular attention to your ability to control the development process. It is all to easy to find technology propositions that go over time and budget. Whatever your proportion of in-house and outsourced development show that you have control of the process of development and retention of any Intellectual Property (IP) during development.
4. Working Model / Illustration - If you don't have a fully functioning prototype then develop a mock-up that illustrates the proposition. Communicating the potential and functionality of your proposition is made a lot easier by visualisation.
6. Customers & Sales - If you have customers and sales you have a proof point that there is interest in your market offering which helps further de-risk the proposition in the eyes of an investor. Where this is not possible then see if you can seek letters of interest, letters of intent to purchase, or can demonstrate a significant following of your product or service via social media or within your specialist area of industry.
7. Investors - Choose them carefully and mind your language. Explore the right type of investors for you (hands on or off) and research them in some detail to try and understand their motivations and investment criteria. Once you have done that be careful not to alienate through the use of highly technical language or concepts that may confuse. Remember, investors are primarily interested in a commercial return for their investment - speak to them in a language they will understand.
Finally, if you are looking for inspiration, take a look at the 2013 Technology Pioneers recognised by the World Economic Forum. There are some well known previous winners (Mozilla, DropBox etc.) and both past and present inspire with their potential to change the way we live life or do business.
The Business Plan Team
The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based just outside Oxford, UK.
If you are thinking of engaging someone to help you with developing your business plan take a look at our article on how to select a business plan consultant.