Aaron Chatterley on looking for investment, on being an investor and on why a one-page pitch trumps the 1,000-page version.
Ahead of Digital Jersey’s investment and investing Springboard Launch event on Tuesday 14th September, we asked well-known Jersey entrepreneur Aaron Chatterley to share his own experience of both seeking investment and making investments.
The boring truth is that most people can’t afford to start a business on their own. They may have the best idea in the world, but those ideas can take tens of thousands of pounds, sometimes millions of pounds, to get off the ground and reach their potential.
For me, launching FeelUnique back in 2005, was at a time when the whole investment landscape was a very different place to what it is today. Back then it was a case of asking friends and family and scraping the money together, or in our case ploughing every last penny we owned into our business and having the greatest incentive in the world – survival – to make it work.
Investors with the foresight to see the opportunity of a digital disruptor business were few and far between.
Fast forward 16 years and there are, thankfully, many more options.
Whether it’s friends and family (yes, they’re still a good starting point), seed capital, venture capital, or sites such as Jersey’s brand new digital investment platform Springboard, there are so many more ways to connect with people who want to support your plans.
Every investor has a different approach to deciding what it is they want to invest in, but the common ground is that an investor needs to connect with, and be excited by, whatever it is you’re planning.
Personally, I am a very instinctive investor. I am very emotionally driven. I have to love the idea and the people behind it. Another investor may be much more focused on the finances, but I have a higher risk profile and look at things through an entrepreneurial lens. I am instinctive and I trust my gut, but I am also surrounded by people who look at other factors. It’s that mix of people that makes us a good team when we invest collective, though I sometimes invest on my own.
Does your business solve some kind of problem or do something better than what’s already in the market place? Do I believe you are the team who can make it happen? Do you have the skills to turn your idea into reality?
For me, you may have the most brilliant idea in the world, but if you don’t have the right people and the ability to deliver it, it’s really not going to happen.
On the flip side, I’ve met amazing people whose product isn’t quite there. But you know what? I get a sense that these people are winners, and sometimes that’s enough to tip the balance in favour of making an investment.
That aside, I need to know your plan is commercially viable. Is there a path to profitability or do I just seen an endless road ahead that includes more raising of money?
And, finally, it needs to be fun. By that I mean we all need to enjoy the process because, frankly, life’s too short.
When it comes to making your pitch to an investor, my best advice is to know your audience. When you’re putting together your deck or your pitch, really think about who you’re pitching to. What are they looking for? What’s going to interest them?
I cannot emphasis enough the benefits of keeping your pitch brief. People too often get sucked down a rabbit hole of detail. It’s absolutely vital that you know your stuff, that you have all the answers to all the awkward questions, but your pitch doesn’t need to include all that.
I have a short attention span. Your primary objective is to get me to go “wow, that’s really interesting”. If I have questions, I’ll ask them. Hit me with a 35-page deck and you’re likely to lose me. Give me the five-page version and, if I think it’s brilliant, I’ll want to see you and I’ll want to know more.
Even my super-analytical co-investors, initially, just want the short version of your story. Make us care. Make us want to know more. You need to have put in the hard work and know all the detail, but we don’t need it all on day one.
Get that right and you’ll have opened the door to your investor. And from there a world of possibility awaits. There really are people in Jersey, right now, with money that they actively want to invest.
If you’ve got the business idea, and you can make them excited by your plan – whether using Springboard or via any other route – then your business really could be the next big thing.
Join us for our Springboard Launch event on Tuesday 14th September at the Digital Jersey Hub, register here