As Chief Investment Officer of Investible, Hugh Bickerstaff is behind startups like Canva, Inamo, Five Good Friends, and many more. With so many growing startups fighting for attention, Hugh lays down the dos and don’ts of approaching investors, for which biscuits you gotta risk it, and why Aussie startups find it so difficult to scale.
How did you become an investor?
It was a gradual process. I started by investing in young, really talented people who shared my passion and energy for business. Then I met the founders of Investible and they asked me to judge some pitch competitions. The founding teams asked me to coach and advise them, and I realised the model of a network of investors who had founded their own businesses, scaled them and had a successful exit, was a powerful one. They wanted to invest not only money, but expertise and the experience to help others.
What’s the most common mistake people make when pitching?
Not being properly prepared for the pitch. That could be not knowing much about who they are pitching to, how long they have to pitch, not knowing their business well enough or not knowing the tech in the room they are pitching in, and not preparing some sensible questions to ask the investors. Also, it’s good to find out more about investors, and establish a connection and communication, well before you’re raising...
“If you want money – ask for advice, if you want advice – ask for money.”
What’s the secret to a good pitch?
Tell a story. How and why you got started in this business, what you love about it and want to build it into. Have a big vision but then explain how you’re going to get there and who you will need to do it.
What’s the best part about being an investor?
Helping a number of founders who can excite people about their journey, and love to tell you how they are going – good, bad and what they need from you. It’s watching and helping navigate the startup journey. Sharing the highs and the lows. Seeing people grow and succeed was what I loved as an employer and now it’s what I love as an investor.