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Practice makes perfect!

I have been actively doing angel investing for the past 3 years in the USA and the region of ex-Yu. On average I probably see 2 to 3 opportunities per week, and I do a deeper dive on 3 to 4 companies per month. The Skok123 group, which focuses only on ex-Yu countries, started in January 2022 and so far we have had 10 companies present, and we have seen materials from an additional 15-20 companies from the region.

Now that we are nearly 4 month into it, i would like to share some observations for those companies that may apply to present in the future:

  • Practice makes perfect! It's a cliche statement, but if Steve Jobs, who was a "natural", could spend hours practicing for his keynote presentations, so can everyone else. At Skok123, as with most angel groups, a company has 10 minutes to present. A company should have 10 - 15 slides and be able to tell their whole story in 10 minutes. The investors attention span is short and you are competing for their attention with 3 other companies at a meeting. Make an impact. Practice!

  • Tell a story. People don't necessarily remember details or statistics. They are more likely to remember a good story. Every company and/or idea has a story. How it started and why, i.e. what problem you identified? What you learned and how that impacted your decision to build a product, company, etc.... How your product/service will make a difference. How you will make money. Tell a story that people can relate to both as consumers and business people.

  • Use your slides wisely. Most people are very visual. Make sure you slides are synching up to your story. When you present make sure your slides match to what you are saying. Having a good visual on the slide helps the investor understand the main point you are trying to get across. If, after the presentation, the investor goes back to review your slides, they are more likely to remember your "story".

  • Know your "numbers". If an investor ask you about your "numbers" and you don't know them that's a BIG problem. If the entrepreneur can not demonstrate that they have thought about the key variables that will drive their revenues and expenses, that means that they don't necessarily understand the business model and how money will be made. I must clarify though, that the investor doesn't expect the numbers to be correct, but they want to see that you understand the "mechanics" of the business. The investor understands that once you have the actual in-market data you will update your assumptions with that data and adjust from there. If the investor doesn't understand that, then you should ask yourself if they are the right investor for you.

  • Don't just say "I don't know". Investors, especially those who have experience building companies, know that you don't have answers to everything. They also are ok with you saying "I don't know", BUT don't forget to follow up with the following statement "I will get back to you with that answer" and then make sure you follow through on your promise. That shows a) that you heard the concern and didn't just dismiss it, and b) that you can be counted on to follow through on your promise.

  • Listen carefully. I noticed that many companies when asked a question by the potential investor do not answer the question that has been asked, but rather the one they think was asked. We understand that an entrepreneur is excited to tell their story, but listen to the question that you have been asked and answer it. If you are not sure you understood the question, just ask the person asking it to clarify.

  • Keep the momentum. The Skok123 group sees at least 3 companies per month. With new opportunities showing up on a monthly (if not weekly basis), it's not unusual to lose the attention of the investor. That's why a timely and thoughtful follow up after the presentation is very important. Consider having a colleague listen to the presentation and write down all the questions and comments from the investors. Afterwards, review those as a team and decide if and how you should follow up.

  • Many / difficult questions = investors are interested. Some entrepreneurs may perceive that if an investor asks questions, and especially difficult questions, that they are "out to get them". That perception is totally wrong! If the investors are asking questions, that means they are interested and they are trying to understand your business better. No questions (or polite questions) = No interest.

  • Don't make assumptions! Don't assume your computer will work. Don't assume your software won't freeze. Don't assume your internet connection will be stable. Test and practice. Remember "Assumptions are the mother of all f...k ups."

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