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Three questions to ask before pitching your business idea

Business

You have a gem of a business idea but are you ready to dive into the investor pool? Elaine Stead, investment director at Blue Sky Venture Capital, provides a short checklist to tick off before you start shopping your business to investors.

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Firstly, she says figure out how you are making life easier for your customer.

“The harder the problem, the more valuable your proposition,” says Stead, who will join Uber, Vinomofo and others on the panel at Disrupters – a how-to for business transformation, on June 23 in Adelaide.

Originally trained as a stem cell biologist, Stead has spent the past decade working in innovation and investment.

Established in 2012, Blue Sky’s venture capital division has expanded to bear a second fund and has more than $80 million in assets under management across a range of industry sectors.

“Almost all the businesses we invest in have an element of disruption,” said Stead.

Blue Sky recently invested $25 million in South Australia-born Vinomofo to support the online wine seller to expand its business in overseas markets. It also invested in Shoes of Prey, a global, multi-channel retail brand that enables shoppers to design their own shoes online, and Eloquii, a plus-sized fashion ecommerce business.

Blue Sky has also dipped into food and beverage and health and wellness, with food retailer THR1VE, an unconventional fast-food chain with a focus on healthy, casual eats.

Looking ahead, Stead points to agriculture technology as the industry presenting opportunities for transformation.

Before you think about shopping a business idea, she suggests:

Be able to articulate succinctly the problem you are solving

All innovative products or services solve a problem for the customer. Saying you’re better than a competitor is not nearly as powerful as explaining what problem you solve. Customers pay money to solve problems, and the harder the problem the more valuable your proposition is.

Think about how you will get to market, even if it’s some time away

Many founders can get trapped by ‘build it and they will come’ thinking, which is almost categorically a myth. All successful companies had a smart, tailored go-to-market and customer acquisition strategy with good acquisition economics.

Even if your commercialisation strategy is some time away, look at strategies other companies have used and think about what may be right for your company. Often foundations can be laid early which can be cost-effective and get early traction.

Research who you will pitch to

Tailor your pitch for the investors you are seeking based on their focus and expertise and the types of companies they invest in. Most investors see several hundred pitches a year, so doing your research shows you’re diligent and prepared, and that you have investor empathy. Understanding an investor’s background also allows you to ask smart questions about what value they bring to the table (apart from capital), which is what you should be evaluating most carefully throughout the process.

InDaily presents Disrupters on Thursday, 23 June at the Published ArtHouse in Cannon Street, Adelaide – click the link below for more details and to book tickets.

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