I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
You filed a provisional application. The clock has officially started. You now have 1 year to file a utility application. You want to continue with the patent process, but the costs to proceed are staggering. What do you do? Get investors! Angel investors are typically those that fund early stage ventures. A great way to find them is to talk to others who have had angel investors. Joining trade organizations related to your invention is another way. If you eventually get a meeting with prospective angel investors, here are some tips on how to pitch your invention idea to them:
- Get the audience’s attention within the first minute. You typically have one minute to grab investors’ attention before they tune out. If you have an hour for the pitch, do it in 20 minutes, leaving the rest of the time for Q&A.
- Tell the audience a story. While investors need data to make an informed decision about your invention, couch that data in stories. Kids like stories. Adults do, too.
- Know your audience. The story that your audience wants to hear will vary. The technology-minded will want to hear a technology story. The business-minded? A business story. Find out beforehand who will be in the audience to tailor the story to the audience.
- Be honest about challenges. Don’t say that you don’t have any. There are always issues to overcome. Tell the investors what those issues are. The investors, if they choose to take you on, may be able to help.
- Focus on your strengths, not your competitors’ weaknesses. Don’t disparage your competition. Chances are that your audience knows your competitors and all their warts. Focus on the benefits of your invention and how it addresses the problem you’re solving.
- Don’t claim that you have no competitors. The audience will think either that you didn’t do your homework or you’re lying to make your invention seem more novel. Acknowledge the competition. Doing so makes you seem more knowledgeable of the market.
- Don’t oversell how successful the invention will be. Investors want you to tell them what their return on investment will be. 2-3 year financial projections are typically the best you can reasonably estimate. 10 years? 15 years? Not a chance.
- Be confident, not arrogant. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The line consists of listening. Confidence is quiet. Arrogance is loud. Listen to learn the audience’s needs. Accept feedback.
- Don’t try to get married on the first date! The purpose of an initial meeting with angel investors is to start a conversation, not end it. Investors don’t typically write a check at the end of a pitch. The pitch is to get you to the next phase of the investors’ selection process. Hopefully, closing the deal will come soon enough!