It’s crazy how life works.
You never know how the people you encounter each day will impact your life. For this reason and many more is why it’s crucial that you are intentional on being kind to everyone, and that you are always putting your best foot forward.
Serial entrepreneur Sheena Allen is one that has always strived to be intentional in every part of her life. From the moment she graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi native knew that she had a purpose in the tech industry and she was relentless in her pursuit of living in that purpose.
After college graduation, Sheena took the path less traveled for recent college grads and ventured off into entrepreneurship. Her first company, Sheena Allen Apps, was her first startup. Through Sheena Allen Apps, her team developed over 5 apps and had almost over 4 million downloads.
A few short years later in 2016, Sheena began working on her second startup CapWay. CapWay is a platform that provides financial education and services, resources, and banking options for the unbanked. Since launching CapWay, Sheena has gotten attention from investors and is currently raising her seed round.
Recently, the Mogul Millennial caught up with Sheena and she shared her tips on pitching and how building relationships helped her land one of her first investors.
It’s okay to be picky about what you want.
“When I’m looking for investors, I do the same type of due diligence that an investor does. For instance, when investors are interested in you, they’ll look at your pitch deck and your financials, and they’ll call around to people that you say you’ve worked with (or if you have a lead investor, they’ll call and talk to them about you).
The same way investors do their research, I do my own as well. Some entrepreneurs do this, but unfortunately, there is a lot of entrepreneurs that don’t. If I find an investor that is interesting, I’ll go through their portfolio, reach out to the startups that they’ve invested in, and get information on that investor. It’s important that you do your research and don’t accept money just because they are offering. Be picky and find the investor that’s right for you and your company. I would rather struggle and find money elsewhere than take money from someone that’ll kill my company short term or long term.”
Create more than one pitch deck.
“Two of the biggest mistakes founders make with their pitch deck is not having enough information and only have one pitch deck.
Early on as a founder, I only had one pitch deck. Later on as I started trying to raise money, I realized that you need more than one pitch deck. You need one that you can take to an introductory meeting and just talk through, one that you can virtually send to investors that is detailed and easy to understand without your presence, and then one that you send to investors when you know they are interested. The latter deck is much more detailed with financials and other important information. Also, in each deck, don’t forget to include the standards: the problem, solution, your traction information, how much you are raising, and your financials.”
The thirst may be real, but don’t act like it.
“I used to pitch like I needed the investor. My pitch used to come off as ‘yes I have a great product but I cannot do anything without your money, so please, please, please invest in my company.’
I was pitching like that in my early founder days until I pitched this way to one of my mentors. 15 seconds in while pitching like this he told me, ‘Stop, this is horrible. You have to stop pitching like this. One thing about women that I find insane is that you all work so hard, but pitch like you’re desperate. You might be desperate, but that’s not how you pitch. Pitch like the white boys. Pitch like you don’t need the investor, like you are doing them a favor.’
After my mentor told me that, I had to learn how to revise my pitch, and I started doing exactly what he said, but of course in the most respectful way. I had to go in with the attitude that I’m going to make it whether the investor gives me money or not, and I had to exude that confidence in my pitch.”
Cultivate relationships with everyone you meet.
Backstage Capital was one of my first early investors for CapWay. I knew Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital way before she started Backstage. I knew Arlan when Backstage was just an idea. Over time, I cultivated my relationship with Arlan, and later reconnected with her in 2016 when I participated in a pitch competition through Google’s Entrepreneurs Program. Arlan chose 5 company’s that she liked from the competition and my company was one of the lucky ones.”