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Since ITEN launched the Mock Angel program in 2009, ITEN startup companies and the startup ecosystem in St. Louis have both evolved and matured. Melissa Grizzle, ITEN’s Director of Entrepreneur Development, notes that companies enter Mock Angels with the basics predominantly mastered–but startups vying for funding need more than the basics covered. That’s where the Mock Angels, a set of experienced serial entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to the program, come in.
Twice a month, Mock Angel mentors assemble to evaluate, support and share their expertise with two participating companies. The advice they give doesn’t have a dollar amount attached, but it does go a long way to meeting the companies’ capital raising goals. Here are some key insights from a recent conversation with five ITEN Mock Angels:
1/ Balance Out Your Team
When you’re starting out, assess your strengths and weaknesses within your company. If your core team is lacking in a certain area, recruit a qualified person who can help bring balance and skills you need. It’s important for the company’s future longevity to have internal diversity.
2/ Fill a Need
Great ideas make excellent products and services. And excellent products and services fill an existing need. Validate the product or service you want to offer through customer research. But don’t stop there. Have customer input during every phase of product development. During your pitch, explain how this data has informed the features and benefits you bring to them.
3/ Consider the Audience
Frame whatever you have to say and however you choose to say it specifically for the audience you’re speaking with. Too technical? They will check out. Neglecting to explain the outcomes? They will be left wondering about the future. Stand out by tailoring your pitch for the investors in front of you.
4/ Crunch the Numbers and Show Your Work
There are a lot of numbers involved in your pitch, or there should be. Investors want to hear them in order to feel confidence in your company. Articulate your valuation number from multiple perspectives. Back these numbers with historical data of similar deals and be prepared to defend how you arrived at price points. Explain the ramifications an investment will have now and moving forward. And don’t forget to add why your company is set apart and more qualified than others in the investors’ consideration set.
Ready to polish your pitch and reach the next level in the Mock Angel program? The first step is to apply to become an ITEN company on the ITEN website.