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30 March 2017 - Jann Raveling

How start-ups can find the right investor

Startups

The right investor is someone to talk to, someone who can open doors and build bridges.
The right investor is someone to talk to, someone who can open doors and build bridges.

If you find the right investor, you gain much more than just money. Expertise and contacts are in many cases much more valuable than a large wallet. All you need is patience, openness and curiosity.

Eduard Andrae has made it – he has found an investor for his idea. The 50-year-old founder of trusted-blogs.com can now concentrate fully on his website. “I had a look around online portals and visited events for entrepreneurs to find out important information. At the same time I was able to attract the attention of potential partners,” says Andrae. He believes it is important that the connection between investor and entrepreneur is based on more than just money: “There has to be a good connection on a personal level so that a start-up can benefit from the investor’s expertise as well.”

Be patient and know yourself

Carsten Meyer-Heder thinks so too. He is the managing director of Bremen-based digital agency team neusta, and investor in trusted-blogs.com. By supporting many tech-start-ups, he is one of the most important investors in Bremen. For young start-ups he has plenty of advice on what they need to look out for in their search for an investor. “Entrepreneurs should primarily know what they want – a long-term partnership or a short-term cash injection” advises Meyer-Heder. For the latter the identity of the investor does not matter. But most start-ups profit by establishing a true partnership with an investor. Especially, if they are right at the beginning of the process of setting up their business.

Search in the same sector

An investor from the same sector is always helpful, as they can not only provide vital business expertise, but they will also know the market and can make it easier to access it. They can provide help with making useful contacts and accessing networks – both important success factors for young start-ups. They can also help with finding specialist staff, as not every start-up will have experts for every department, e.g. in technology, marketing, sales or project management. Start-ups are in need of expertise in many areas - on a coordinated and well-functioning team.

Just follow your nose - but be wary, if it stinks!

“At the end of day the chemistry between financier and entrepreneur must be right, which is why I recommend finding a family business, rather than a typical venture capital investor,” Meyer-Heder explains. The main reason: The former do have more interests than just their return-of-invest, they are personally dedicated to the sector. There untrustworthy investors, too, so plenty of background research and careful studying of contracts are a must once the initial euphoria has passed. Especially, when it comes to the amount of equity in the company that the investor will receive in return. More than one start-up realized too late that their shares vanished.

Change your perspective: Why is someone interested in my idea?

“There are many types of investors – business angel, venture capitalist, accelerator and business incubator. Each type has its advantages, which is why entrepreneurs need to do their research,” says Kai Stührenberg from Bremeninvest. A change of perspective can be helpful, too: why is an investor interested in my idea? Which factors might win them over? These questions can be decisive during the pitch. “The point is to present yourself not as someone looking for a handout, but more as a business partner offering opportunities – and that has to come through in the pitch. That’s why a start-up should leave the question of finance until the end of the presentation – and make reasonable demands, of course,” Stührenberg adds.

Now tell me: How do I find the right investor?

He agrees with Bremen-based investor Meyer-Heder on the best way to get a pitch: through somebody who knows the investor, i.e. through networks. And the best way to build these up is through immersion in the local start-up scene, attending events or asking Bremeninvest. In Bremen, there are regular events for young entrepreneurs. They are listed on our german website: www.startups-bremen.de. Another good start is the B.E.G.IN-Network, which helps entrepreneurs setting up a business. They can be contacted via the welcome service

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