I Slept With 65 VCs and Learned These Things

Our first suitor called us in the spring. They offered to pay for coffee. It was our first date. I had butterflies in my stomach. They promised they’d done this before and that I shouldn’t be nervous.

I could tell they were experienced. Their smile was soothing.

They looked me in the eyes. They wanted our pitch deck. “Do you use protection?” I asked. “No.” I knew it was dangerous doing it without protection. But it was so tempting. I was excited. I wanted to get in their portfolio. I couldn’t resist. So I took a deep breath and slipped the deck in. “Is it in yet?” I felt naked. I didn’t care. Maybe this was the one, I thought. Maybe they’ll actually call me back after this meeting. Maybe they’ll invest.

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The pitfalls of asking an investor to sign an NDA

There’s one way to lose a potential investor before you even start: demand that they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
It happens all the time. Someone thinks they have a great idea but won’t send the pitch deck without an NDA first. They’re terrified that the “billion dollar blueprint” will be stolen by some unscrupulous VC guy.
It’s a classic amateur mistake. It means you probably have no knowledge of how the startup ecosystem works. Worse, it means my first impression of you is that you’re an idiot.

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Firms vie for slice of Enterprise funding

This week’s Enterprise Angels meeting saw funding pitches from three companies, including Bay of Plenty-based Balex Marine.

Balex is looking to close out its third funding round of $900,000 and has already raised $415,000 in a rights issue from shareholders in its latest round.

Enterprise Angels (EA) is also about to begin beta testing its new online funding platform, AngelEquity, which will allow any qualified investor in New Zealand to take part in an angel investment deal either originated by or syndicated through the early stage BOP funding group, said executive director Bill Murphy. EA has members from Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and the Waikato.

Balex Marine has been developing its production and distribution channels for its Automatic Boat Loader (ABL), which allows for remote controlled launch and retrieval of trailer-boats. The ABL is now being used in the NZ market, with 21 marine dealers, four trailer manufacturers and three boat manufacturers on board.

The company has also lined up a distribution deal with Forge UK for Europe and the Middle East, and is developing its Australian network.

To date, in addition to seed and early stage capital from founders and friends of the company, Balex has completed a first round of $600,000, a second round of $1.2 million, and is now almost halfway through its third round of $900,000, with $415,000 raised in a rights issue from existing investors, including Enterprise Angels members.

“The company is looking to raise funds from new shareholders, including EA members that are new to the deal,” said Mr Murphy.

Paul Symes, Balex’s chief executive and a major shareholder, said it was possible the company could complete the latest round through EA members.

“We’re continuing to work closely with Enterprise Angels,” he said.

“However, we are also going to be casting our net a little wider and will be working with other potential investors, including crowdfunding options such as AngelEquity when it goes live.”

Balex will be taking part in the Sydney International Boat Show where it will share a display with Sydney-based Watersports Marine, which is a key dealer for Dunbier Trailers, Australia’s biggest boat trailer company. Balex is currently in discussions with Dunbier on Australian distribution.

This week’s EA meeting also saw funding pitches from Agersens, a fenceless farming agri-tech startup developing a virtual shepherd, and Synthase Biotech developing a proprietary technology known to neutralise lipid peroxides, which could extend the life of bull semen used in artificial insemination.

Mr Murphy said Enterprise Angels had been busy this year with eight follow-on investments and a number of new deals under way.

First published –  NZ Herald 28 July 2016

Ask the expert: pitching to investors

OPINION Q: “We’re looking for investment for our company but none of us have any experience pitching to investors or even know where, or how, to begin. What are your key tips for approaching investors?”

A: The first action is to just start pitching and to do so at every opportunity. Practice with your grandma, your four year old, and ideally a few contacts that won’t just nod and tell you it’s great.

The more you share your vision, the better you will become at enunciating key points. Most investors feed off of enthusiasm and energy and that is more likely to come through if your pitch is well tuned.

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Startup Standouts – Cloud Cannon & Common Ledger

As an investor there’s nothing to stop you from keeping an eye on some of the bright young things coming through. Of nine startups that pitched at Wellington’s Lightening Lab Demo Day, two really stood out reports Yahoo NZ’s business desk.

Common Ledger. The startup has developed a platform letting accountants integrate different accounting software. That might make your eyes glass-over, but if you’re a small business owner, it means you can run your old MYOB accounts in your accountant’s flash new Xero system, without having to copy and paste.

They were looking to raise $550,000 and had attracted half of that in commitments before pitching, which would go to completing a major deal with one of the big four accounting firms, and help pay for their sales and distribution.

Cloud Cannon. These two youngsters have a startup which has developed a platform to make it easier for freelance web developers to create and host websites.

If you don’t hang around any web or design geeks, you probably won’t know the frustration they typically go through to send and upload their final design for a customer. Essentially it’s eight hours of pain-staking graft at the end of what’s already been an arduous process.

Cloud Cannon’s idea was to use Dropbox to cut that time to seconds, in what becomes a drag and drop process.

It’s a simple idea, but also one that would win over the scores of freelance web designers out there if they can get their product down-pat.

Read more from Yahoo NZ Business & Finance News

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