There are a lot of dos and don’ts to keep track of when you pitch to investors—properly define the market opportunity, outline the problem/solution, demonstrate key revenue streams, etc.—but one element that often gets overlooked in favor of hard-hitting data is conveying a passion to solve the problem and confidence in the solution.
“When money is the only thing on your mind, you miss a huge opportunity to connect on a higher level with potential investors,” says Colette Courtion, Founder and CEO of Joylux, a women’s health technology company.
Courtion has been at the forefront of pitching investors on ideas that are not best defined by a balance sheet. Her company develops products for sensitive women’s health problems, specifically pelvic floor issues, which affect more than 30 million women in America. Data shows that women’s health alone is an $80 billion industry, but Courtion is intentional about highlighting more than just the numbers when she pitches to investors.
Pelvic floor issues are “hush hush,” rarely discussed outside the bedroom, and often not even there. The boardrooms where Courtion pitches her business are frequently filled with men who are both unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the issue. That is the wall that must be broken down, and it must be done with personal connection and passion.
Courtion has outlined how she dove head first into pitching to an audience that struggles to relate to the vision of the business.
Make Data Personal
You are supposed to have a lot of statistics on hand for your pitch. How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is the lifetime value of a customer? How much does it cost to produce your product? But Courtion notes that if your business is paving new roads, you need to include a whole different type of data altogether.
“Before we started product development, we used The Benchmarking Company to collect valuable input from over 2,300 women to assess the need and desire for products like ours,” explains Courtion. “We wanted to prove that this was an issue that mattered, that women really cared about it, and that they cared about it enough to want to buy a product that addresses it. That kind of data can be overlooked in a pitch because it does not seem as tangible, but for a business like this, it is essential.”
In their Benchmark study, 95 percent of women said they were interested in buying a product to address postpartum or menopausal pelvic floor disorders.
“The ability to show investors such uniform interest in solving the problem was a pivotal component of our success,” says Courtion.
Making Personal Connections
Data needs to be layered with a connection. No matter how insightful you can make the numbers, finding a bridge between them and an investor is still crucial.
Courtion’s bridge was not only sharing her personal journey of motherhood, but also turning to the spouses of investors, many of whom were also mothers. In rooms full of male investors, she relied on the fact that most had a spouse or a partner who had personal experience with pelvic floor issues. She was willing to be personable, exude her passion to provide a practical solution, and create a connection that would invite not only investors, but also champions throughout her entrepreneurial journey.
Her company has also been intentional about including male business leaders on its board and leadership team, part of a broader effort to ensure there is a bridge and an openness about the issue that spans the gender barrier.
Funding for Women-Only Products
According to a study by Babson College, 34 per cent of firms with a woman partner are more than three times as likely to invest in companies with women CEOs, compared to just 13 percent without a woman partner.
“We gave them the data, testimonials, and growth potential and still received resistance. It is challenging for a woman-owned business that is developing a product for women to break through,” says Courtion. “We found at the end of the day, we had to make the issue real and transcend the experience barrier. Getting past that demanded that we be immensely personal in our presentation, something that is uncommon in a VC boardroom.”
Moral of the story? While most pitching tips will tell you to keep your personal life personal, there is a time and a place (and at certain companies) where it makes sense to create a personal connection with your audience.