Roland Berger’s experts advice

In the occasion of the #DisruptBerlin event, the 6 selected startups who came with us to Berlin participated to the exclusive bootcamp “Master the Art of Fundraising”, during which experts from Roland Berger presented the best tips and insights about fundraising and VCs.

The first thing is to BE READY: identify the right time to talk to VCs, understand your capital needs and do not bullshit.

Once you have identified your needs, pick the right VCs and build a simple but impactful pitch deck. You need to tell a story which is captivating and which simplifies the key information about your company:

  • What is the problem you want to solve
  • What is your value proposition
  • How does your product or service work
  • Why is it urgent
  • What do the market and the ecosystem look like
  • How is your business model built
  • What is your go-to-market strategy
  • What are your KPIs and objectives
  • Who is your team
  • What have you done so far
  • What is your vision for the future

Financials are also very important and they need to be tackled with precision: investors want to know your P&L, your cash flow, your cap table and get a very clear idea of the amount you need.

Once the pitch is ready and the numbers are in row, it is time to go down into the arena and do the show. Roland Berger’s experts gave to the attending founders some key advice to never forget:

  • Be professional
  • Be smart but not arrogant
  • Demonstrate your perfect knowledge of your market
  • Don’t negotiate your values
  • Take your time to answer questions
  • Don’t ask for NDA

Dana Kanze’s research on VCs and gender bias

In order to empower the female founders attending our special bootcamp, we had the honor to have Dana Kanze, Assistant Professor at London Business School, sharing the results of her study about gender discrimination in the VC environment, as well as the best practices to avoid gender bias and maximize results when talking to investors.

As Dana pointed out, female-run firms represent 40% of US companies, but only 3% of US VC funds are allocated to female founders. Furthermore, US VC financing has been rather steady at 2-3%, while the % of female VCs has gone up from 7% to 10%.

Kana showed us how social psychology can explain this gap: male founders are expected to have high growth aspirations (promotion attitude), while female founders are expected to have low-risk appetite and need to protect ownership (preventive attitude).

This perception creates bias in investors, who ask promotion questions to male entrepreneurs, and prevention questions to female entrepreneurs. Kana showed a very clear example, by comparing the following question, asked in two different ways: “How do you plan to attract customers?” v. “How do you plan to retain customers?“. The second formulation is “preventive” and tends to be asked more to female founders!

In order to confirm this theory, Dana studied 189 founding CEOs, of which 12% are women, and 140 investors, of which 40% are women. The study showed that prevention questions – and answers – drastically decrease the amount of funds raised: for every prevention question asked, entrepreneurs raise $3.88M less!

So, what can female founders do to maximize results in promotional settings?

1/ First, recognize the promotion v. prevention of the question;
2/ Frame the answer in a promotional way to reach a better outcome;

You can discover more about Dana’s research here.

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