With countless startups looking for funding, the question arises: What can new brands do to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack in the eyes of venture capitalists? The key to a successful startup, according to some, is good funding, and good funding is derived from having a good pitch.
In today’s market, venture capitalists are excited by new brands that follow models of success, thereby limiting risk. A recent article in the Economist highlighted a particularly successful startup, Peixe Urbano, that is duplicating Groupon’s business plan with great success. The main reasons for its success? It’s in Brazil.
Emerging markets, such as Brazil and Turkey, are home to some of the most desirable startups — as far as venture capitalists are concerned. These markets are particularly lucrative for American financiers because they offer cheap, ambitious laborers and cater to a new consumer to whom the concepts are fresh and innovative. However, startups in emerging markets are risky because of volatile economies and the eventual American cultural infiltration that often takes over the market.
Since the dotcom bubble of the 1990s and early 2000s, the venture market has been looking toward other industries. While software startups still form the foundation of the venture capital market, other industries, such as biotech and alternative energy, are growing in popularity and profitability (IPO Dashboards).
Venture capitalists are looking for a winning formula that they have seen in the past. If you can create a compelling pitch that plays to the strengths of your startup, your chances of getting funding multiply. According to Tech Crunch, a presence on AngelList is one of the most important factors in successfully getting off the ground. As publicized on its homepage, angel.co, AngelList has helped raise $1.1 billion for various startups since its inception in 2010.
Promotional decks are an important part of a startup pitch. Pitchenvy is a service that provides decks from startup pitches that were successful in raising money. These decks vary greatly but all present their information clearly and concisely with a creative twist to draw in the audience. In some cases, this can be a quick video that documents what the firm does. There are several startups that provide platforms for cheap videos and animations that help other startups promote their name quickly and effectively.
One of the most forward thinking ways to pitch is to use a crowdfunding platform that can later be developed into a sales department. A service like Kickstarter can help raise money for initial projects that can develop into legitimate startups from there. Since its conception in 2009, Kickstarter has helped 24,000 projects receive $250 million in funding. Whether it is a startup, project or simply an idea, there are countless services and leg-ups that can help get you off the ground; what is more important, however, is having the insight to set yourself apart from the competition.
Carving a Path
While the idea does not have to be novel, there has to be an aspect of the presentation that is unique in order to make an impression on investors. The product itself need not be particularly unique. For some companies, this distinguishing trait can be an innovative business plan. Seeing as startups are often prominent in new industries, the ability to read the market, anticipate and react to shifts, and exploit new revenue streams are some traits that can make one startup more desirable than another even if their products are similar.
According to a 2009 article in Forbes, the ability to process information in a productive and efficient way is one of the most valuable traits that a company can have. The article references an airline that uses a sophisticated analytics system that allows them to identify high value customers, how to keep the ones they have, and attract new ones. A system like that allows the airline to get ahead of its competition and sets it apart in the market. Ultimately, venture capital firms are looking for innovation that thinks outside the box.
Getting a startup off the ground is no easy feat. With many startups entering markets that are new and growing, anticipating market shifts is difficult in markets that are still trying to defining themselves. With a shrewd business plan and a unique approach, there is boundless opportunity to get funding and start a successful business in today’s market.