Drive Oregon, a partner of OEN that is focused on promoting, supporting and growing the electric vehicle (EV) industry in Oregon, brought angel investors and entrepreneurs together on Sept. 5 for an insightful Investor Forum at the historic Davis Street Tavern.
Five Oregon-based EV startups, including Arcimoto, Boxx Corp. and Green Lite Motors, pitched their business ideas to a panel of angel investors, moderated by Scott Sandler of the Oregon Angel Fund, and angel investors shared their feedback and tips on how startups can put their best foot forward when telling their story and seeking funding.
While the forum was focused on the EV industry and opportunities to make Oregon a center of excellence for sustainable transportation solutions, the panel of investors provided valuable advice applicable to any startup looking to secure funding.
OEN was there and put together this recap of the forum. For more information about upcoming events from Drive Oregon, visit driveoregon.org.
What are angel investors looking for?
By and large, the panel of experienced angel investors said that what matters most to them when evaluating a startup idea are: revenue opportunity, market opportunity and the management team.
What can companies do to improve their chances of getting funded?
Angels shared some of the following tips with entrepreneurs seeking funding:
- Recognize your weak spots and have a plan to address them. While every entrepreneur may be passionate and enthusiastic about his or her idea, there will be points of weakness along the way. Being able to see this is very important for investors.
- Don’t be all things to everyone – pick a clear strategy and stick with it!
- Make a good impression and be clear and succinct in telling your story. Investors need to get it in the first five minutes.
- Play to your audience and be open to answering questions and veering off course in your presentation.
- If you don’t know the answer to an investor questions, it’s OK to say you don’t know.
- Try to hear what an investor’s question is and what his or her concern may be.
- Make sure you have a solution to a customer problem, not just a solution to a technical problem.
Do business plans matter?
The panel of investor experts said the business plans do matter, but offered the following advice: in today’s fast-moving world, business plans can change quickly, so one of the best ways to present your plan to investors is to have a strong, clear executive summary and no more than 10-12 pages of a business plan. If investors are interested in more information, due diligence can follow with a more detailed look at the business.
Angel investors also advised entrepreneurs to tailor their presentations to investors, and not just re-use customer presentations filled with industry jargon. Presenting to an investor is different than presenting to a customer, and entrepreneurs should clearly show why their solution is different – and better – than anything else in the market and what the market and revenue opportunity is.