Thousands of excited founders apply for accelerators every year, hoping that with the investment, knowledge, networking, and pitch opportunities provided, they can turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. And what’s great is that many do, and you could be next.
But before you apply for an accelerator program, you should know what to expect during due diligence and how best to overcome its hurdles. Below is a compilation of advice from different Brinc representatives who have seen numerous pitches and learned what does and doesn’t intrigue program managers, venture capitalists and others who can unlock the door to success.
Incite faith in your business and its product
“Transparency and clarity are key to a successful due diligence process” states Guillermo Ginesta — Brinc’s Managing Director, Hong Kong. “Startups that provide thorough documentation, prompt responses, and open communication tend to fare better, as it helps build trust and confidence. We, as investors, are on your team.”
Present your track record
“It’s important that startups demonstrate their proposition and market value when presenting. A company that can boast a track record of success — be it in the current business or a previous one — also appeals, as experience is key. Finally, as well as the problem they’re trying to solve and the demand for their business, I should know the reason their solution will come out on top and gain traction by the end of someone’s pitch.” advises Nick Zieber — Brinc’s Program Manager, Sandbox (Hong Kong).
Demonstrate market value
“Before pitching, ask yourself a few fundamental questions to make sure you have a market fit. Firstly, does your company address a problem people are willing to pay to solve? If the answer is ‘yes’, how widespread is the problem (or opportunity)? Once both of these aspects are established, ask yourself whether this is just a new feature, or — preferably — a product or service that can grow into a company in its own right.” says Castor Hui — Brinc’s Corporate Innovation Director (Hong Kong). “Finally, it’s rare to find a space with absolutely no competition, but you still have to present something unique about your product or service and how it will develop (your business model) that means it can both endure and scale.”
Ground your numbers in reality
Olga Dontsova — Brinc’s General Counsel (Hong Kong), states “Whether you’re talking to a banker or an investor, at some stage, someone’s going to look at your numbers. A startup’s rhetoric will get them far, and charismatic leadership is a huge selling point, but eventually, a pitch deck or business plan will be looked at by a person who knows what they’re looking at. It will quite literally pay you to satisfy that person because that person’s advice and risk assessment will be factored into any decision involving funding.”
Provide coherent and insightful answers, and listen to questions
“You’ve probably heard before that a significant number of investments are made in people, not ideas. A confident pitch and capable answers to questions that instill faith are vital. A common mistake from founders is that they haven’t thought through the entire business model, and fail to convey the idea of how they have a unique value proposition and have a realistic estimate on when they will see profit, which drives away investors.” says Shirley Feng — Brinc’s Program Manager, ZK Advancer (Hong Kong). “Another point on demeanor — be receptive to having an open dialogue. Commonly, teams that don’t make it were rushing to complete their script, but didn’t stop to observe how their pitches were being received.”
“A successful pitch is not just about selling your business, it’s about sharing your vision with passion, honesty, and clarity; and inspiring others to believe in it as much as you do.” says Karim Banna — Brinc’s Web3 Program Manager (MENA). “Pitch your business as if it’s your full-time job, because it is. Investors want to see that you’re committed to your vision and that you’re not just treating it as a hobby.”
As put by Andrew McCarthy — Brinc’s Business Development Manager (Hong Kong), “If you’ve taken it upon yourself to network with the right people, you’ll not only potentially be familiar with the people you’re pitching to; but the lingo they use, the mannerisms they have, and more, so you’ll naturally be more comfortable and confident in these scenarios. So attend the events, shake hands, learn from success stories, and actively seek your foothold.”
In summary, be honest, be receptive, be prepared, be determined, and appeal to whoever you’re pitching to’s reasoning as well as aspirations. Any potential investor will want to be on your side (otherwise they’d do something else with their time), so help them get there.