Five elements of a great investor presentation

Five elements of a great investor presentation

1. Authenticity

A lot of entrepreneurs think that they need to be someone that they’re not in order to impress an investor. That is not a good idea and can backfire. First of all, people can usually sense when someone’s not being authentic. They may not be totally conscious of what is going on, but something will not feel right and they will not invest.

Second, you have a much better chance of attracting investors that are going to be a great fit for you if you’re really honest about who you are and what’s important to you. Just as lying on your online dating profile only leads to heartache when you end up attracting someone based on deception, the same holds true in the world of capital raising.

2. Passion

Don’t water down your message – show your passion! Be proud of what makes you unique and yes, maybe, a little different and quirky.

Very few people want to invest in something generic. Highlight what makes you, your company, and your product or service truly special and inspired.

Every entrepreneur I know that has successfully raised money has told me that this was the key to their success.

Your presentation should make it clear that you are passionate about your business. Passion is attractive because it demonstrates commitment – this is not something that you are going to give up on at the first sign of hardship!

3. Story

Maybe there’s something about your personal story that led you to develop this business that makes you all the more passionate and committed. For example, I have a client whose children have multiple allergies. She became passionate about finding healthy foods for them and built her whole business around that. The story behind her business is really interesting and it adds to her credibility in the eyes of potential investors.

4. Integrity

It is essential to make sure that your potential investors know that you have integrity, that you’re going to be a careful steward of their money, and that you’re going to always act with the highest ethics. These are attributes that are important to investors and somewhat rare in the world of business. You may take these things for granted, but you need to remember that they add value to your investment proposition and so should be emphasized in your presentation. If you can, share stories or examples of how important integrity is to you.

5. Willingness to Walk Away

As you go through the capital raising process, commit to yourself that you will walk away from a potential investor if the fit does not feel right. This can happen for many reasons. For example, you get a sense from the investor that he or she has a vision for the future of your business that is not consistent with yours. Or he or she is already pressuring you to lower your wages and stop paying one percent of your revenues to charity when those things are really important to you. Or maybe it’s just a gut feeling that you really don’t like this person.

Being prepared to walk away reduces that chances that you will end up with a horror story situation in which you lose control, get fired from your own business, your investor makes your life miserable, etc. I have heard lots of these stories and believe me, you don’t want them to happen to you!

Another benefit of being prepared to walk away and really owning that mindset is that potential investors will be far more attracted to your offer because they will sense that they have to work to be accepted into your inner circle.

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How to launch an investment crowdfunding platform

How to launch an investment crowdfunding platform

Do you want to launch a funding portal for investment crowdfunding?  Currently, there are only 12 of these that have gone through the process required under the JOBS Act.  Here is a very abbreviated summary of some of the main requirements for starting and operating an investment crowdfunding portal:

Funding Portal Registration

To create a funding portal you have to complete and file “Form Funding Portal” with the SEC.

You also have to become a member of FINRA (see details here: http://www.finra.org/industry/funding-portals).

Limitations on Funding Portals

The funding portal may not

(1) Offer investment advice or recommendations;

(2) Solicit purchases, sales or offers to buy the securities displayed on its platform;

(3) Compensate employees, agents, or other persons for such solicitation or based on the sale of securities displayed or referenced on its platform; or

(4) Hold, manage, possess, or otherwise handle investor funds or securities.

Measures to Reduce Risk of Fraud

Among other things, the funding portal must conduct a background and securities enforcement regulatory history check on each issuer and on each officer, director or beneficial owner of 20 percent or more of the issuer’s outstanding voting equity securities, calculated on the basis of voting power.

Educational Materials that Must Be Provided to the Investor

In connection with establishing an account for an investor, the portal must deliver educational materials to such investor that explain in plain language and are otherwise designed to communicate effectively and accurately:

(1) The process for the offer, purchase and issuance of securities and the risks associated with purchasing securities;

(2) The types of securities available for purchase on the intermediary’s platform and the risks associated with each type of security, including the risk of having limited voting power as a result of dilution;

(3) The restrictions on the resale of a security offered and sold in reliance on the crowdfunding exemption;

(4) The types of information that an issuer is required to provide under the rules, the frequency of the delivery of that information and the possibility that those obligations may terminate in the future;

(5) The limitations on the amounts an investor may invest under the rules;

(6) The limitations on an investor’s right to cancel an investment commitment and the circumstances in which an investment commitment may be cancelled by the issuer;

(7) The need for the investor to consider whether investing in a security offered and sold in reliance on the crowdfunding exemption is appropriate for that investor;

(8) That following completion of an offering conducted through the portal, there may or may not be any ongoing relationship between the issuer and the portal; and

(9) That under certain circumstances an issuer may cease to publish annual reports and, therefore, an investor may not continually have current financial information about the issuer.

Promoters and Compensation Disclosure

The portal must inform investors regarding any person who promotes an issuer’s offering for compensation.

When establishing an account for an investor, an intermediary must clearly disclose the manner in which the intermediary is compensated in connection with offerings and sales of securities.

Investor Qualification

Each time before accepting any investment commitment (including any additional investment commitment from the same person), an intermediary must obtain from the investor

(a) A representation that the investor has reviewed the intermediary’s educational materials, understands that the entire amount of his or her investment may be lost, and is in a financial condition to bear the loss of the investment; and

(b) A questionnaire completed by the investor demonstrating the investor’s understanding that:

(i) There are restrictions on the investor’s ability to cancel an investment commitment and obtain a return of his or her investment;

(ii) It may be difficult for the investor to resell the securities; and

(iii) Investing in securities offered and sold in reliance on the crowdfunding exemption involves risk, and the investor should not invest any funds unless he or she can afford to lose the entire amount of his or her investment.

Communication Channels

The portal must provide communication channels by which persons can communicate with one another and with representatives of the issuer.  The portal may not participate in these communications.  Anyone may view the discussions but only investors that have opened accounts may post comments.

Maintenance and Transmission of Funds

The portal may not handle funds.  It must direct investors to transmit the money directly to a qualified third party, such as a registered broker or dealer or a bank or credit union.

Compliance

A funding portal must implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder relating to its business as a funding portal.

A funding portal must also comply with federal rules related to privacy of consumer financial information and safeguarding personal information; limitations on affiliate marketing; identity theft red flags).[1]

A funding portal must permit the examination and inspection of all of its business and business operations that relate to its activities as a funding portal, such as its premises, systems, platforms, and records by representatives of the Commission and of the registered national securities association of which it is a member.

 

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/17/part-248

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Who should be allowed to invest?

Who should be allowed to invest?

Have you heard of the term “accredited investor”?

An accredited investor is defined under federal law, in general terms, as an individual with at least $1 million in net worth (excluding her primary residence) or $200,000 in annual income.

If you qualify as an accredited investor, there are many more investment opportunities open to you than to everyone else.

This definition has not been updated significantly since 1982.

The definition has been criticized from two opposite sides: advocates for investor protection believe the dollar amounts should be increased to reflect inflation, while advocates for greater investor access argue that the definition should be expanded to allow more people to invest wherever they want.

There are some proposals on the table to update the definition that have nothing to do with dollar amounts.  These include

  1. allowing people with a certain amount of past investment experience to be included in the definition
  2. allowing people with certain professional credentials, such as licensed securities brokers, to be included
  3. allowing people who pass an exam that demonstrates financial sophistication to be included.

What do you think?!  How do we balance the need to protect investors with fewer resources and less sophistication with the benefits of allowing everyone to make his or her own decisions about how to invest?

(Source: Report on the Review of the Definition of “Accredited Investor,” a report by the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, December 18, 2015)

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