Pitching An App To An Angel Investment Group by Sam Marley
Photo Sharing App Blurr, Co-Founder Sam Marley: They drilled us with questions afterwards. (During the pitching process) They get a 20 minute Q&A with 50 angel investors, all business owners, drilling you with questions. We handled them all really well…”
There was a big angel investment group in Boston called Boston Harbor Angels and essentially what this is consists of is a group of about 50 angel investors in Boston that get together once a month and then they have companies come in and pitch to them and essentially from that group of 50, they get a group of investors (maybe 5) that are interested in investing. Then they go away and meet you again (especially for due diligence) and then decide whether they want to invest individually.
So this is a pretty typical angel investment group. You know, Boston is very heavily medical and into technology, not social apps in any sense of the imagination. But there was a new guy in charge of Boston Harbor Angels. He saw us pitch at a Northeastern University events, we ended up speaking with him. It was actually his first event coming up in that 3-weeks (the one that he put together). He was obviously looking to get something new and something fresh and he was like “Alright, you boys are going to be one of the 5 to go and pitch.” And this was the time when we were raising money. So we were like “Okay. Great.” It’s this morning event and there are all these older people and it’s really early (8 a.m. or something). We went out to some school outside Boston. We walk in and everyone’s there, definitely looking at us like “What are these 21-year-old boys doing here? Like whatever?” and we stepped up. We’d done a ton of pitches and one of the great things, depending on the length of the pitch, if all three of us or if one of us does it, if it’s more of a “What is Blurr” pitch, then it’s usually just one of us. Or if it’s an actual investor pitch then like 10 minutes long, then all three of us will do it. And the synergy between us works unbelievably and it’s great. So us three stepped up and killed it (to be honest). We did extremely well. They drilled us with questions afterwards and we get this 20 minutes Q&A, like 50 angel investors (all business owners), drilling you with questions. We handled them all really well.
Obviously they don’t give you any feedback or anything. But one of the best things for us was we pitched at a school outside Boston (I think it was Babson College or something like that) and the Babson entrepreneurs students were allowed in the room as well. What they do is once you’ve finished, they send you out of the room and the angel investors get to talk amongst themselves. Obviously all of the students were still in the room as well. Afterwards they came out and they were like “You did really well” because we were getting drilled with questions, so we didn’t really know how we did. And they were like “Once you left the room, they started shifting on all the other companies. You boys handled it incredibly well.”
I think you sell what you have. We were not going to try to hide the fact that we’re young and we’re still on college. Let’s no hide it. Let’s play into it. Anyone that likes this, brilliant. Anyone who does, ***k ’em. I was saying earlier that there are enough people in the world that it doesn’t matter if someone’s not interested in you (from a business or a personal standpoint).
From there the group of interested investors (which was obviously was a small number because most of them would never think of investing in an app in any sense of the imagination. Essentially we met them and received a decent amount of investment from that group. So it was cool just to get that validation of stepping into a room of 50 seasoned business owners that are old school investors and essentially turn the tables on them and have them be like “Who are these kids?” and then by the end, they’re very impressed. To hear that was pretty cool.
That is one of our biggest selling points is the fact that we are our biggest users. And I think that any company is all brilliant for that. We see it and live it everyday. We’re at University every weekend seeing how people take pictures, seeing how they share them, seeing how they interact with new forms of social media and there is no better validation than that. So a lot of the questions we get is “Okay, what saves a big event company or a big social media company doing the exact same this as you’re doing and building it in two weeks with all of their engineers?”
That is one of our biggest selling points is the fact that we are our biggest users. And I think that any company is all brilliant for that. We see it and live it everyday.
And it’s like ‘Well, they can build whatever they want but I’m telling you that Google doesn’t have market research people on the grounds of the big universities in the country and in high schools actually, seeing how kids are interacting with stuff. And the fact that we have that market insight and that we have a big ambassador program all over the country that tells us how young people are interacting at events and what they want from events. And as we’ve been moving into other events like weddings and seeing people a little bit older than us in that age bracket, we are that generation. There’s really no better market validation than having your founders as your biggest users, definitely not.
I think you sell what you have. We were not going to try to hide the fact that we’re young and we’re still on college. Let’s no hide it. Let’s play into it. Anyone that likes this, brilliant. Anyone who does, ***k ’em. I was saying earlier that there are enough people in the world that it doesn’t matter if someone’s not interested in you (from a business or a personal standpoint). There are enough people where you can find the ones that love the fact that you’re young and it’s the first company and you are first-time founders and you are still in college. Those are the people that some people are like “Oh, I don’t invest in a first-time founder.” It’s fine. That’s okay. Instead of trying to hide it, we sell it. Sometimes at the start of our pitch we say “Yeah, we’re 21 years-old. Hi!” You’ve just got to sell what you have and make it work to your advantage.
Question: Do you have any pitching experience or advice to share?
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