What investors look for at Demo Day, and how founders can impress them
Antler’s inaugural Demo Day in Sydney will take place on Thursday, November 7 at the iconic Sydney Town Hall.
Demo Days are a right of passage for companies that graduate from an accelerator or incubator program, or in Antler's case, a startup generator program.
These events are an opportunity for the teams which have participated in the program to reveal the traction they have made and to capture the interest of investors, in order to secure funding which will enable them to further grow and scale.
Antler's inaugural Demo Day in Sydney will take place on Thursday, November 7 at the iconic Sydney Town Hall.
This event is expected to attract hundreds of local and international investors from angels to venture capitalists (VC), eager to see first-hand the newest technology companies to be generated in Australia.
In the lead-up to the event, we asked a handful of local investors what they look for from startups pitching at Demo Days, and what founders can do to impress them.
Here's what they had to say.
Kenny Wong, angel investor
Pitching your startup is equal parts scary and exhilarating. One way founders can optimise for success and calm the nerves is to know your audience. Keep in mind you don't have to cater for the whole room. Know who you want to engage and tailor the story to attract their attention. Let your passion shine through in your delivery and make your ideal investor feel like you are speaking directly to them. Remember: "less is more." Leave the audience wanting to learn more, and already connecting the dots to the opportunity and how they can add value.
Lynda Coker, angel investor
My top pitching tips for any entrepreneur are:
• Be on message
• Don't ramble. The market opportunity or WOW factor can be communicated upfront simply in 30 seconds
• Personalise the story
• Be clear and persuasive about the ask and the investment opportunity. All investors have FOMO
Robert Nicholls, angel investor
The following is a short list of the criteria (principles) that I employ to evaluate the investment attractiveness of a startup. These principles provide the basis from which I am prepared to make an investment of time and effort with the founders toward making a decision to invest or not.
• Exceptional teams
• Attractive total addressable market (TAM)
• Scalable technology
• Solving a problem or need that is linked to a clear market trend (timing)
• Demonstrated traction
• Clear product-market fit
• Attractive (forecast) unit economics
• Sensible and reasonable investment term
Kylie Frazer, angel investor
I always look for the personal elements of a pitch - why is this your problem to solve. If a founder can't convince me that they are personally connected to their problem, then I am going to wonder if they will walk away from it when it (inevitably) gets hard.
Elicia McDonald, VC investor
Use your pitch to share how you're shaping the future. Highlight why you and your team are best placed to change the world as we know it and show your ambition to bring your vision to life.
James Stewart, angel investor
I'd be looking for the teams to show an understanding that the only real validation of product market fit is through profitable sales to customers and that the focus of a new company must be on building a sales machine that can deliver value to customers in the market. If they have that and positive team dynamics of people who genuinely care about their customers and each other, and then I think you have the keys to success.
Marcus Jansen, angel investor
When investing, I look for opportunities where the return potential outweighs the risk. Return potential is driven by market size and the business model. In this sense, a pitch or demo needs to succinctly communicate and demonstrate:
1. The major pain or opportunity being addressed in the first instance. Multiple adjacent pains and opportunities cloud the message and potentially indicate a lack of focus or deep understanding
2. How the pain or opportunity relates to market size, which should have some detail, be realistic and without hyperbole
3. That there is a viable business model if the solution or product is successful
Risk mitigation is primarily achieved through confidence in the team as well as evidence (the more the better) that the market wants the problem solved, that the solution does that in a novel or significantly better way and that the business model stacks up. For me, a strong team is one that is cohesive and that can demonstrate persistence/problem solving and an ability to get things done quickly while maintaining attention to detail. An ability to tell a large, compelling story is also something I look for as it is a key skill for winning over investors, employees and customers.
James Kirby, angel investor
I'll be looking for investments that make a positive contribution to our world, i.e. a strong social or environmental impact. Also, the business will need to have a very clearly defined strategy and a detailed business plan to achieve profitability. And most importantly a founding team that exhibits passion as well as an appropriate skill set.
Antler's Demo Day in Sydney takes place on Thursday, November 7 at Sydney Town Hall. Along with showcasing the local portfolio companies, Antler will hold an expo hall, and mentoring sessions for the public, and there will be an inspiring keynote speaker. Tickets are limited. To secure a spot and see the next wave of tech, visit our event page and buy a ticket.
Must-read articles from Antler
Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia
Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves
“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS
Piet Hein van Dam: The seasoned data entrepreneur aiming to eradicate type 2 diabetes
Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Bringing a clarity of vision to our latest spotlight is Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder of Clear, the award-winning digital self-help tool for diabetes patients.
Unpacking the $80+ billion ONDC opportunity: India’s next startup catalyst
India's approach to unbundle payments made the world look up and take notice. Now it's time to disrupt commerce with the Open Network for Digital Commerce or ONDC. In our latest Theory of Next deep dive we mapped, researched, and reached out to every network participant live on ONDC right now.
And we're excited to share with you a comprehensive what could be India's next unicorn catalyst with inputs from Vibhor Jain (COO of ONDC), Sujith Nair (Founding member of Beckn Protocol), and founders building on ONDC!
Co-authored by Nitin Sharma (Partner, Antler) and Gokul Kumaravelu.
Five steps investors can take to support more diverse founders
Despite growing calls to create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship, only a fraction of funding is raised by founders from underrepresented communities.
The first step towards change is quantifying the challenge. While in-depth research has been conducted about women founders and founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, data has never existed about tech founders from the LGBTQ+ community—until now.
A record year for Europe's leading day zero investor
A look back at 2022, a record year for the leading day zero investor in Europe—showcasing investment activity and key predictions for the early-stage tech ecosystem in 2023.
Antler and Microsoft for Startups partner to back women founders
Antler is proud to join forces with Microsoft for Startups to support rising entrepreneurs—starting with 23 non-dilutive grants to women founders in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America—and reduce the barriers to startup success. Meet some of these founders.
Tanika McLeod: The educator empowering the next generation with an on-demand social learning platform
Our content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. In our latest spotlight, we spoke with Tanika McLeod, one of the three co-founders behind MinuteSkill, a Toronto-based social micro-learning platform that uses bite-sized content and knowledge-sharing communities to empower the next generation.
Venture capital as an engine of positive transformation
Antler's second annual ESG and Impact Report shares learnings on how VCs can focus on creating sustainable value from the outset, and celebrates our portfolio companies' work in this space.