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What Determines Whether Early-Stage Investors Accept or Reject a Start-up for Investment

Start-ups must demonstrate their potential for growth, global benchmarking, and the possibility of achieving category leadership

What Determines Whether Early-Stage Investors Accept or Reject a Start-up for Investment

Outlook Start-Up Desk

POSTED ON July 08, 2023 12:10 PM

Investing in early-stage start-ups is a high-risk, high-reward endeavour for investors. When presented with numerous investment opportunities, investors carefully evaluate each start-up's potential to determine the likelihood of fruitful returns. 

In India, the dynamic landscape of early-stage investments has witnessed a surge in micro venture capitalists (VCs) who strategically target pre-seed and seed funding stages. This trend has not only fueled the growth and maturation of the early-stage ecosystem but has also played a pivotal role in the substantial rise of seed funding in 2022

Despite the economic slowdown, last year saw the highest inflow of seed funding in the past eight years, with 41 per cent of the total $5 billion raised by Indian start-ups since 2014 being secured in 2022. However, there exist key determinants that shape early-stage investors' decisions. It boils down to founders captivating investors with an impressive pitch, projecting a promising future ahead.

Crafting An Effective Pitch

A successful pitch captures investors' attention by clearly conveying the start-up's value proposition, market opportunity, and unique selling points. Start-ups that excel in this aspect demonstrate a thorough understanding of the target market, competition, and the problem they aim to solve. 

Entrepreneurs can captivate investors and create a strong first impression by presenting a compelling pitch that effectively communicates the start-up's vision, market potential, and competitive advantage.

Investors also value founders with relevant education, expertise, and industry experience. A founder's pedigree instils confidence, indicating that the team has the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate challenges. By emphasising the founders' qualifications, previous achievements, and deep understanding of the industry, start-ups can demonstrate their credibility and ability to execute their business plans successfully.

Investors assess the founding team's ability to attract notable individuals as seed investors, mentors, or advisors. The calibre of people associated with the start-up reflects its potential for success. 

Demonstrating a strong network and attracting experienced professionals as supporters can strengthen investor confidence. Start-ups should emphasise their team members' diverse skill sets, relevant industry connections, and successful track records to showcase the start-up's potential for growth.

Seizing The Opportunity

Investors seek start-ups with sizable market opportunities and scalability potential. Start-ups must demonstrate their potential for growth, global benchmarking, and the possibility of achieving category leadership. 

By conducting thorough market research, analysing market trends, and providing data-backed projections, start-ups can showcase the attractiveness and scalability of their target market. Furthermore, highlighting untapped market segments and illustrating how the start-up plans to capture a significant market share can further pique investor interest.

Investors look for early signs of traction, such as product launches, consumer response, sales figures, customer engagement, and repeat business. These indicators validate that the start-up's offering resonates with the target market and has the potential for sustainable growth. 

Start-ups can provide evidence of market acceptance and early traction by showcasing successful product launches, positive customer feedback, increasing sales figures, and metrics demonstrating user engagement.

A Solid Execution Plan

An effective execution plan is crucial for gaining investor confidence. Start-ups must outline a month-on-month growth strategy, detailed cash flow projections, and a well-defined fundraising strategy for future expansion. 

By presenting a comprehensive roadmap that outlines key milestones, growth targets, and a clear plan for utilising funds, start-ups can demonstrate their ability to execute their business plan effectively. Additionally, emphasising a strong understanding of operational challenges, risk mitigation strategies, and adaptable growth plans can boost investor confidence in the start-up's ability to achieve its goals.

We Founder Circle (WFC), an early-stage start-up investment platform, closed 71 deals in 2022, emerging as India's largest angel investor network. Avni and LISSUN stand out as examples of success among the start-ups it has invested into till date. 

Avni, offering natural and reusable menstrual products, secured $75,000 by addressing the market's lack of organic alternatives, demonstrating a deep understanding of the target market and presenting innovative solutions like a 24X7 support helpline to guide users towards better product application and usability. 

Similarly, LISSUN, a mental and emotional healthcare platform, raised $1 million in pre-seed funding with WFC's support by showcasing expertise in the field and providing comprehensive care through self-diagnosis tools and necessary treatments. 

Avni and LISSUN are shining examples for other start-ups seeking investment, demonstrating the importance of founders' credentials, attracting reputed backers, identifying sizable opportunities, showcasing early signs of traction, and presenting a well-defined execution plan. 

These success stories inspire and guide aspiring start-ups, showcasing the key qualities that can impress investors and pave the way for growth and success in the competitive start-up landscape.

-Neeraj Tyagi, Co-founder & CEO of We Founder Circle.

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