Dennis R. Pape has been one of the leading figures in Orlando’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for years.
He has run accelerators, taught entrepreneurs and advocated for the expansion of financial support for the ecosystem.
On March 1, he announced the return of VentureScaleUp, a development program for entrepreneurs that took last year off because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pape also is a part of the tech company investment fund SeedFundersOrlando.
We asked him to share three tips for entrepreneurs who are either considering seeking investment or who have a pitch for investment upcoming.
1. Answer the question, “Why now?”
An investor not only needs to see a viable product. They want to see that you have assessed a market and that the timing of your product or service is ideal.
“We want to see you trying to solve a problem that nobody has before,” Pape said. “Tell me what’s happening out there and show me that it is happening. Then, show me how you’re going to solve the issue.”
Pape shared an example used in the book “Backable” by Suneel Gupta. The book recounts Airbnb’s efforts which famously noticed a growth in Craigslist ads and farmed their listings for referrals. You can find that story, as told to Business Insider, HERE.
2. Practice, develop your pitch
Obviously, you need to know what you are talking about to convince complete strangers to part with their money. Start with friends and family but then move on to share your pitch with other entrepreneurs, Pape said.
“You want to seek out, in particular, other entrepreneurs who have raised capital,” Pape said.
Share information about your company that will garner their interest. You do that by developing your pitch and running through it constantly.
3. Know everything about your business
There are few things worse than listening to an entrepreneur make his pitch, asking him a question and then hearing those dreaded words: “I’ll have to get back to you.”
That’s a red flag, Pape said.
“You should know your business inside and out,” Pape said. “You should know its numbers. We want you to obsess over your business, especially if we are going to give you our money.”
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