How can your FinTech start-up attract more investment?

By Gavin Lock, COO, Senjō Group

This year Senjō Group is again a proud Sponsor of the Next Money FinTech Finals (FF18). As part of this, some of the best FinTech start-ups in Asia will be competing at the Semi-Final Open Pitch Nights across Asia and the world for the chance to win “Best in Show” at the Finals event to be held in Hong Kong on 30 – 31 January 2018.

With the Semis underway, we’ve already seen country winners emerge and heard some great ideas. As a FinTech investor, we are constantly on the lookout for promising and high growth businesses. Maintaining dialogue with the start-up and investment community is important to us, and it is these conversations plus our partnerships with events like FF18 that give us a unique insight into the kinds of challenges that start-ups face. We’ve also seen founders stumble to get investment even when they’ve got a great idea – it’s a shame and shouldn’t be the case.

As we approach the culmination of the FF18 semis and the end of a busy year, I wanted to share some of my personal top tips for start-ups who are looking to move to the next stage:

1. Be picky about your investors

Don’t just take the money. You should consider your investor(s) as an extension of your own team. Make sure their insights, experience and knowledge are right for you. Can you envisage how they would be part of your growth story? Do they have applicable experience when it comes to working with a FinTech business? It’s important to be very clear about what investors will bring to the table and if they are aligned with (or will positively challenge) your thinking. You should be open to talking to them about this and the skills they can bring during the pitch.

2. Don’t overcomplicate your pitch

Investors will know your space well, that’s why they are meeting with you. The best pitches talk about disruption and change, but they also do this simply. Finance is laden with jargon, and you should avoid this wherever possible, sticking to more general terminology. You need to strike a balance between selling a simple, but effective, concept (often based on technical, financial principles), without giving away the crown jewels. Avoid likening yourself to “the Uber of payments” or the “Airbnb of consumer loans” as this can be a turn-off – we’ve heard this a million times and we want to know your story.

3. Tell a story

This will help you come across as more likable, and it’s often you and your ability to communicate, not the product alone, that draws interest. Remember to keep it relevant to your business and what you are looking to do. Generally speaking, at the heart of every financially focused technology, there is a really solid story and insight.

4. Open up

The more you can tell investors about your business plan and how it has developed over time, the better. Show how you’ve been able to grow the business, what you’ve been able to achieve and how much that has cost you. If you can show you’ve been thoughtful with your original capital, investors will feel comfortable working with you (and their own capital). Show investors how hard you have worked (and are willing to work) and that you have real skin in the game.

5. Make sure that FinTech influencers know you

Investors will rarely make a decision in the room, they’ll be doing their research and this can often include going on social media and searching for news about you. Try to create a bit of interest with some of the main FinTech influencers – this can be journalists, bloggers, and investors with a solid online presence. If you can get people to write about you (or even mention you) then this can all help to build your credibility.

6. Understand investment terms

If you’re going to be running your own business, you’ll need to become an expert on investment terms. You can either learn it yourself or seek advice from peers, colleagues or lawyers. Make sure you know your numbers inside out but choose your battles and remember that you’re going to be working with your investor for a while so you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.

7. Practice makes perfect

You’ve probably been pitching all year or even longer. However, every pitch is different and it’s worth running through and tinkering with your slides and words again and again. Think about all sorts of tricky questions and get an impartial partner or colleague to work with you on these. Don’t stop thinking about how you can make it better; some of the most successful FinTech start-ups have changed their presentations countless times.

If I had to give only one advice, remember that at the end of the day investing is all about the people. Start-ups and investors want to work with people they can truly partner with and have a shared connection and vision.

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