Throughout our careers, we have been pitched by thousands of companies. Here are the top five reasons we’ve seen why investors say no.
- Management’s inability to tell the story
If you can’t get your point across in the time it takes to ride up 20 floors in an elevator, you should refine your pitch. We’ve had calls with companies after which we could not even tell you what the company’s business is. It’s important to be clear and concise when pitching investors, and to make clear the benefit of your company to your target market.
- Valuation too high
Often, companies will approach us with an unjustifiably high valuation. They often say that these valuations were verified by third parties. Our response is: “Great, then have them invest at that valuation.” The most important valuation is the valuation that gets your transaction done. It does not matter what you think your company is worth if investors don’t agree.
- No plan to liquidity event
What is the biggest fear of an investor in a private company? The biggest fear is that the company will succeed, but there will never be a liquidity event, thus making the investors captive minority stockholders, and their shares worthless. It’s important to have a clear path to a liquidity event, whether it is a public offering or a buyout. We like to structure our transactions as public-market based transactions when appropriate. This allows for higher valuations, friendlier terms, and happier investors.
- Unattractive industry
As a management team, you could be doing everything right and hitting the ball out of the park within your market segment, however if the industry in which you operate is not attractive to investors, they will likely not take a chance on your company. An industry can seem unattractive to investors for a number of reasons: the industry could be highly competitive, the industry could be in decline, or the industry could be out of their area of expertise. You may be the highest grossing frozen fish distributor in the world, but if you approach a technology investor, chances are they will pass on the investment.
- Uncertainty as to management’s ability to execute
Convincing investors of your ability to lead your company is just as important as convincing them of your company’s ability to succeed. Although an investor is purchasing a stake in your company, they are purchasing a stake in you as well.
Bob Brown and Andrew Glashow are the founding partners of New World Merchant Partners, a transactional and strategic advisory firm. They are seasoned professionals with long and successful track records as a result of their experience in finance, investment banking, legal, marketing, technology and operations. Collectively, they have advised and assisted more than 100 management teams and owners to help them achieve their financial objectives through numerous corporate finance, M&A, and commercial transactions.
Chances are, if you haven’t heard of fidget spinners, you don’t know many 10-18 year olds. Fidget spinners are handheld toys meant to help teens focus and keep their hands busy. They range in price from about $5 up to $100 on the very high-end.
Teens have become completely obsessed with fidget spinners. They collect them. They trade them. Nobody imagined that fidget spinners would bring as much revenue as they have. Sharon DiMinico, owner of the Wonder Works chain of toy stores told
The Wall Street Journal that she has “…never seen a craze hit this quick, this fast.” Fidget spinners brought her stores $2.6m in revenue in April alone.
Let’s talk about the inventor of fidget spinners. Catherine Hettinger patented her fidget spinner idea in 1997. Catherine pitched the idea to a few of the big toy manufacturers, none of whom were interested in her fidget spinners. As a result, Catherine let her patent expire in 2005.
So, from the tens of millions of fidget spinners sold, Catherine has made nothing.
We consider this a failure. Although she had a great idea, Catherine’s failure to renew her patent resulted in the loss of millions upon millions of dollars in profits. There is little more important than protecting your ideas. You may have the best business idea out there, but without the proper protections in place, that idea is worth nothing.
Always protect your ideas.
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