How to Use Virtual Events and Meetings to Raise Funding for Your Startup
You know you’ve got a stellar business idea with a growing target market. But it’s one thing to have a good business idea; it’s another to get that idea funded successfully.
As business continues to be conducted remotely, startups have to adapt their fundraising approach to the virtual world. Where fundraising used to consist of in-person pitches and networking lunches, there’s now an opportunity to reach even more investors through virtual events.
In this article, we’ll take you through some basics of raising funds for your startup, no matter what round of funding you’re seeking. We’ll focus on how to use virtual events to pitch the best investors for your business.
Raising Startup Funds: The Basics
Startup fundraising consists of several rounds, depending on your level of business development.
If you’re just getting started on developing your product demo and forming your business, you’re in the pre-seed round. In this round, founders typically rely on their own money or investments from family and friends.
The first formal phase of startup funding is known as the seed round. In this phase, you’ll need to pitch investors that might include venture capital firms, angel investors, or other investment nstitutions.
After the seed round, startup funding rounds are labeled Series A-C. Each round focuses on expanding your business’s customer base and revenue growth even further.
Before planning a virtual event to raise funds for your startup, you’ll want to understand which round of funding you’re working toward. This will help you choose the right type of funding to pursue, investors to pitch, and events to host.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind before launching a fundraising round for your startup:
- Get your documents in order: Some investors may ask to see financial records, business formation documents, or other paperwork to make sure you’re a reputable business. Work with a business advisor to dot your i’s and cross your t’s ahead of your fundraising events.
- Begin fundraising early: Don’t wait until the last minute to begin raising funds. Large investments can take a long time to line up. Aim to begin your fundraising round at least six months before you expect to run out of money.
- Create a detailed business plan: Investors want to know exactly how you plan to use the money you raise. In your business plan, outline how you plan to grow the business and why you need to raise funds to pursue this line of growth. Include everything from equipment purchases to employee recruitment and engagement strategies.
5 Ways to Raise Funding for Your Startup
Before we dive into the how-to of virtual events, let’s take a big-picture look at all the ways you can raise funds for your startup.
As we’ll see, some types of fundraising are better suited to virtual events than others.
Here are five ways you can raise funding to expand your startup.
- Business loans: You may have already pursued a business loan to help grow your startup. If you haven’t yet considered this option, keep in mind that your personal credit score will factor into your eligibility. If your credit score is under 600, consider repairing your credit score to increase your chances of securing funding.
- Networking: Sometimes, you just need to know the right people. Ask your business contacts or even friends and family if they know anyone who may be interested in investing in your startup. You can also attend virtual networking events to expand your list of contacts and meet new potential investors.
- Crowdfunding: With the power of the internet, anyone can become your investor. (Think of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allow anyone to contribute to new ideas.) Consider launching a marketing campaign to attract micro-investments from potential future customers. Virtual events can play a big part in attracting and educating your online audience about your business.
- Startup pitch competitions: In these events, you prepare a pitch that’s presented to dozens or even hundreds of investors at once. You have the chance to win a cash prize for your startup, and it’s also a great opportunity to get your pitch in front of investors you might not have met otherwise.
- Investor meetings: When you catch the eye of a venture capital firm or angel investor, you’ll need to present your pitch deck and full business plan before you secure the funding. To make it easy to meet with investors from anywhere in the world, conduct virtual meetings to pitch your investors. You can even present your pitch to multiple investors at once.
While you might need to attend virtual meetings of some sort to secure a business loan or participate in a pitch competition, those typically won’t require much preparation on your part.
When it comes to crowdfunding, networking, and investor meetings, however, you can leverage virtual events to deliver a persuasive pitch to your top-choice investors. In the next section, we’ll show you exactly how to do it.
7 Steps to Running a Virtual Event to Raise Funding
Virtual events are a great way to pitch your startup to potential investors — when they’re done well.
A well-executed virtual pitch meeting can offer a smooth demonstration of your product capabilities and business prowess, helping you impress valuable investors.
But a poorly run online meeting can cause frustration and anxiety, turning investors off to you and your business, no matter how good of an idea it is.
By following these steps, you’ll plan an effective virtual fundraising event for your startup.
Decide on the event format
While your pitch presentation will be a key part of your virtual event or meeting, it won’t be the entirety of it. Even if you’re meeting one-on-one with an angel investor, you’ll want to allow some time for networking and building rapport between investor and team.
Your event format will depend on the type of funding you’re trying to secure. For instance, if you’re running a crowdfunding campaign, you may want to have an hour-long webinar with time for your pitch, a product demonstration, and audience questions.
An investor meeting, however, may include time for brief introductions, followed by a more in-depth pitch.
Create a brief outline of your event and note how your attendees will participate. This will help you pick the right virtual event software in the next step.
Pick a virtual event platform
With your event outline in hand, make a quick list of features you’ll need in your virtual event platform. For instance, do you need to livestream your meeting on social media? What kind of presentation features do you need for your pitch deck? Will you record your event to share later?
Then choose a platform that offers all the features you need. You’ll also want to consider things like call quality, price, and reliability.
You should also consider ease of access for your attendees. A web-based virtual event solution is often easier for new attendees who can simply click on a link rather than download a new app to attend.
Choose a date and time
Think about the types of investors you hope to invite to your meeting or event. When are they most likely to be available?
Once again, this will depend a lot on the type of funding you’re trying to raise. If you’re crowdfunding, consider a weekend or evening time slot to make it easier for hobby-investors to attend.
If you’re seeking venture capitalists or investment banks to attend your virtual event, you might have more success during business hours. Don’t forget to account for time zones if you’re working with investors from around the world.
Narrow down your list of potential investors to invite to your event and let them know of the date and time.
If you’re inviting a small group of highly valuable investors, take the time to write out personal emails letting them know the details. That level of care and attention will go a long way in impressing potential investors.
If you’re holding a crowdfunding event, you can approach it more like a digital marketing campaign. Create an email strategy or advertise on social media to cast a wide net in your target audience of potential investors.
You can also use marketing automation and other features in your virtual meeting software to make it easier to manage a large number of attendees who need meeting access information.
Prepare your pitch
If you’ve never pitched your startup before, you’ll need to spend a lot of time crafting the perfect pitch for your investors.
A good pitch is both concise and thorough. You need to get to the point and present a compelling case for why your business or product is a good idea for the current market and for those specific investors.
The smaller your virtual fundraising event or meeting, the more tailored your pitch should be.
Check out some of these sales pitch examples to get inspiration for angling your pitch. Create a pitch deck or presentation to accompany your talk. Make sure to use lots of visuals to keep your audience’s attention throughout.
It’s also smart to rehearse your pitch. If you’re the only presenter, you can practice your pitch whenever you have a few spare moments. Don’t forget to practice with your partners if more than one of you is planning to speak, though.
Check your technical setup
Before the event starts, do a dry run of your agenda. Have a few people connect from different locations and devices to test the connection and presentation quality. You should also get feedback on your background, lighting, and sound.
This practice run should mitigate any issues you might have around your virtual event. On the day of, be sure to build in some time to troubleshoot any unexpected technical difficulties, both for you and your attendees.
Follow up with potential investors
After the event, follow up with your attendees to answer any questions they may have and prompt them to finalize their investment.
One strong tactic is to send out your pitch deck or business plan to potential investors, along with the event recording or any other supplemental materials. This way, you proactively engage with event attendees and provide them with additional information to help them make their decision.
It’s also important to make sure investors can get in touch with you. If you’re in the earliest phase of your startup, be sure to check your company email regularly to respond to messages in a timely fashion.
Start Planning Your Virtual Event Today
Virtual events are a powerful tool for raising startup funding. By carefully preparing your pitch and cultivating the right investor attendees, you can create a virtual fundraising event experience that leads to more growth for your startup.
Use a virtual event platform like LiveWebinar to run virtual events smoothly.