What investors look for at Demo Day, and how founders can impress them

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.

Journify pitching at Antler's second Singapore Demo Day

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 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 an 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 exhibit 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, 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 here and buy a ticket. 

This article was written by Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communication for Antler in Sydney.

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