To secure investment, cleantech companies need a viable technology and well-defined business proposition. Both need to be communicated effectively so that investors can understand the opportunity in front of them.
We spoke to two seasoned cleantech investors to find out:
- What a cleantech company must do to make an excellent first impression and get its foot in the door?
- What can stand in the way of understanding the opportunity a cleantech company offers?
Pippa Gawley is the Founder and Managing Director at Zero Carbon Capital, an EIS fund investing in early-stage companies. Jan Palasinski is Investment Partner at Future Energy Ventures, E.ON’s venture capital investment and collaboration platform.
What should you establish the very first time you get in touch with your chosen investor, whether that’s via email or at an event?
It may sound obvious, but Pippa recommends thoroughly researching the investor and only applying if your company meets its investment criteria. She says most of the applications her fund receives don’t meet at least two of their criteria. When that’s pointed out, entrepreneurs argue or ask for introductions to other investors, which can come across as disrespectful and wastes their time.
Jan advises focusing initial efforts on developing a well thought out ‘Twitter pitch’ explaining what your company does and why. He also suggests including some KPIs in the pitch to indicate traction and third-party validation. Depending on the stage of your company, these can be related to product development milestones or to customer and sales growth.
“When talking to an investor, ensure you breathe and leave room for questions. Establish a relationship. Teach and learn. VCs need you as much as you need them – remember this when setting the level of your conversations.” ~ Jan Palasinski, Investment Partner at Future Energy Ventures
Assuming you fit the criteria and have established a conversation, what elements of your pitch may hinder success?
Pippa says that many companies struggle to convey what the benefit of their technology is to their customers.
“Conveying the benefit to your customers is the number one thing to get right. If you can’t get it across in one sentence, think about going back to basics until you can.” ~ Pippa Gawley, Founder & Managing Director at Zero Carbon Capital
Meanwhile, Jan has some very practical advice. Firstly, it’s better to present more slides with one clear key message per slide rather than fewer slides packed with information. Similarly, he recommends using separate charts to illustrate a concept rather than using one chart to display several ideas, which makes data difficult to interpret.
Starting your investment communications
“A typo in a deck is not the same as a typo in an email. Show that you care about quality. Be beautifully minimalistic and authentic. Be convinced. Be convincing. Show the eye of the tiger.” ~ Jan Palasinski, Investment Partner at Future Energy Ventures
Pippa and Jan’s advice shows that there’s a lot to think about when looking to secure investment beyond your technology and business. Leading a cleantech business may mean that communications is not one of your top priorities, or you may struggle to find the time to get it right, even if it is. That’s totally understandable. However, our conversations with investors show time and again that effective communications are vital to raising investment.
Our “A Guide to Growing your Cleantech Company” whitepaper includes a chapter on attracting investors. Download it for free to access further insights, plus a handy checklist to guide you along the way.
Raising investment requires a strategic approach to communications, a simple plan for a complex endeavour, and brilliant execution.
At Life Size, our portfolio includes supporting cleantech companies, both start and scale-ups, with their investment communications:
- Designing and writing investment decks
- Supporting with the content and delivery of pitch presentations
- PR and content campaigns to accompany successful fundraising
Would you like to discuss your upcoming funding round and find out how we can help you present a successful case to investors? Get in touch to arrange a free consultation with our resident investment expert, Jan firstname.lastname@example.org