How to attract investors: lessons from Tim Jackson

Last week I was at a dinner with Tim Jackson investor, entrepreneur, writer and founder of Lean Investments. Usually making investments of between £10,000 and £500,000 at seed stage, Tim shared his top four things he looks for when considering an investment.

Team – how investable are the team? It’s not about how much experience these individuals have in their field as inexperience in an industry often leads to innovation. It is also very telling if entrepreneurs and their team members are willing to give up their well-paid, salaried jobs in the pursuit of their business. If you aren’t committed and willing to invest in your idea then why should anyone else?

Traction – how far have you got with your business with no investment? Press features and a website don’t cut it, investors want to see tangible results. What sales are you making? If you are building an app then the important thing is your engagement rather than your users. Anyone can download an app but getting people to engage with your product and build a community online is very different. 

Market – what is the size of your market? Is it growing and is there enough people in it that you can realistically reach and sell to?

Barriers – what barriers to entry are there for the competition? If you have something that can be copyrighted, patented or trademarked then make sure you have done this. Investors want businesses to be competitive and sustainable on multiple levels not just price and user experience. 

It was when discussing barriers that Tim made the observation of why Richard Branson has been so successful building his empire – he has entered highly regulated markets that are notoriously difficult to work in; trains, planes and banking. These industries are also renowned for offering a poor product and service, meaning the Sir Richard’s Virgin empire only has to be a tiny bit better than the competition to attract and retain customers. 

Finally, I asked Tim what one thing instantly puts him off a deal. The answer? Being asked to sign an NDA. When you consider the volumes of business plans investors read, it is highly likely that someone at some point in time will be doing something similar to you and signing an NDA makes navigating future investments potentially a legal minefield. 

Have you got any tips for raising investment or what makes a proposition more attractive to investors? Please leave them in the comments below.

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