HomeKnow-HowHow to win over angel investors in a changed fundraising landscape

How to win over angel investors in a changed fundraising landscape

The startup landscape in 2024 has undergone a significant shift. A recent report from Pitchbook highlights that fewer rounds are taking place. Gone are the days of funding rounds fueled by inflated valuations based on the ‘potential’ for a business to disrupt or soaring user numbers.

Economic headwinds have made angel investors more cautious, prioritizing strong fundamentals and clear paths to profitability. Startups seeking funding must adapt as pre-pandemic fundraising strategies no longer suffice.

A recent Angel Investment Network survey of investors across our global network revealed some key trends for startups navigating this new landscape.

Understanding Investor Motivations

The most common motivations for becoming an angel investor were the potential for high returns (61%), portfolio diversification (40%), access to innovation (39%), and hands-on involvement (34%).

Of course, the opportunity to offer a decent return through a disruptive product or service remains key, but also bear in mind that many angels will be looking to add value and be involved in some capacity, as opposed to other funding routes like banks or P2P loans.

There has been a marked shift in angel investor motivations, as more socially and environmentally conscious investors are coming to the fore. While financial returns remain a significant driver, a strong emphasis is placed on positive impact. Seventy-two per cent agree this has a big impact on investment decisions.

This means that a compelling idea, once enough to secure funding, now needs to be coupled with a clear mission that resonates with the investor’s desire to leave a positive impact on the world.

Craft a compelling narrative that highlights the positive impact

Startups should focus on crafting a narrative that showcases not just their product or service, but the positive impact it will have on the world. Whether it’s addressing environmental concerns, promoting social good, or revolutionizing an industry, highlighting the transformative potential of any venture is a key element for a majority of angel investors.

The sectors that are getting the attention of investors we spoke to include fintech, healthcare, and AI. Encouragingly, most investors were optimistic about the startup ecosystem and anticipated continued growth. Another positive is that more are planning to invest more this year (29%) versus 21% saying they were going to invest less. Meanwhile, 47% would invest at the same level.

But it is important to temper this with realism about the current state of the market and investors’ reduced willingness to back unproven startups.

Avoiding common pitfalls: Don’t make these startup mistakes

The survey also highlights crucial red flags that can derail fundraising efforts. The most prominent mistake identified is overvaluation (31%). In today’s climate, unrealistic valuations are a major red flag for investors. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to adjust their valuation expectations and focus on demonstrating their company’s true potential for growth.

Another common pitfall is inadequate market research (18%). Investors need to have a deep understanding of the target market, competitor landscape, and overall industry trends. Successful startups are marked out by conducting thorough research while presenting a clear picture of the market opportunity they are addressing.

The most common pieces of advice for startups based on the feedback of investors are:

  • Reducing Valuations: Be prepared to adjust valuations to reflect the current market climate and a company’s current stage of development.
  • Longer Fundraising Periods: Plan for a longer runway when fundraising. Investors are being more cautious, so startups should anticipate a more extended timeframe for securing funding.
  • Smaller Funding Rounds: Consider raising smaller funding rounds in stages. This allows for incremental growth and demonstrates a focus on prudent financial management.

The survey also sheds light on the key traits investors seek in founders. A clear value proposition (77%) is paramount. Investors need to understand the problem a startup solves and the unique value it offers in a crowded marketplace. Passion and commitment (57%) are equally important. Investors want to see founders with unwavering dedication and a burning desire to see their vision come to life.

Finally, strong leadership (46%) and a well-defined value and mission (57%) round out the investor wishlist. Startups should demonstrate their leadership capabilities by outlining their vision for the company and the plan for achieving it. Aligning a company’s mission with the positive impact being aimed for will create a cohesive and inspiring narrative.

Building strong relationships: Communication is key

The survey underscores the importance of clear and consistent communication with potential investors (monthly contact/reports being preferred by 53% of investors). Regular updates keep investors informed and engaged with progress, which in turn builds trust and fosters a strong foundation for a long-term partnership and future funding rounds.

Securing angel investment in 2024 requires a strategic approach that goes beyond simply having a good idea. By understanding investor motivations, presenting a compelling narrative emphasizing positive impact, and demonstrating strong leadership and a clear path to profitability, startups can position themselves for success.

It’s worth noting that angel investors are not just funding a business; they are becoming partners in a business journey. Effective communication and a commitment to building a long-term relationship are essential for securing funding and achieving long-term growth.

By stepping into the shoes of the investor, startups can navigate the new landscape, secure angel investment, and bring their innovations to life.

Mike Lebus
Mike Lebus
Mike Lebus is a recognised angel investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder and Director of Angel Investment Network Ltd, the world’s largest angel network with over 1.5 million entrepreneur members and over 300,000 registered investors worldwide. He has invested in multiple UK startups, and is a regular author and blogger on topics related to startups, entrepreneurship, angel investing, and fundraising.

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