Landing a $250k Investment Deal on Lions’ Den: What Worked for Us
The most common question I’ve gotten since my appearance on Lions’ Den hasn’t been “How was it?”, but rather “How did you successfully close the deal?” So instead of a post detailing the Lions’ Den experience, I want to focus on this second question in today’s post. I’ll talk more about what it was like being on the show in a few weeks (check back or subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the update!).
Since it can be challenging for new startups to secure funding, I’m going to outline the most impactful and useful assets we brought with us into the Lions’ Den. Each experience and investor is different, so keep in mind that no one approach will work every time. But below, I’ll talk about what we did to maximize our chances of success.
Speed & Flexibility
Bamba is a company focused on strong growth and staffed with entrepreneurs. So naturally, we all were immediately excited when the application for Lions’ Den arrived in our inboxes. Jumping at the opportunity, we quickly put together a small application team and submitted the completed application within 24 hours.
The ability to respond swiftly was our first advantage. We were able to complete and submit the application quickly because we already had the necessary materials on hand; we had previously invested time and brainpower towards developing collateral about the company and what we did. Here are some examples of the resources that had already been prepared, polished and ready to go, before the Lions’ Den application even hit our inboxes:
- Executive Summaries
- Financial Projections
- 6/12/18 Month Plans
- Competitor Comparisons
- Industry Analyses
Together, these materials conveyed a detailed, consistent and precise message about who we are, what we’ve accomplished and where we’re headed. By having the documents and information on hand, we were able to demonstrate our intimate knowledge of our company and industry and give quick, concise responses. This allowed us to make a strong first impression.
Our second advantage was our team’s experience. Both Shehzad and I have raised money for other ventures in the past, facing down the pressure and questions good investors typically ask. I really have to give a shout out to our time at Techstars Austin here. The tremendous amount of feedback and experience the Techstars program generated refined our pitch and messaging.
A Strong Pitch
Speaking of our pitch–we had to be extremely resourceful. As you can see from the video, we didn’t have access to a display screen, the Internet, or a mobile connection at the studio. The pitch was meant to be a short, powerful delivery of the facts. We wanted to deliver a pitch that conveyed Bamba as a serious, fast-growing business, and that highlighted our:
- Team of proven entrepreneurs and industry specialists;
- Existing traction/revenue – we made sure to use hard numbers that could be backed up, and we memorized them;
- Investment and growth plan – we explained how the money would help us and what we would do with it;
- And most critically, the company’s scaling and exit strategy.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice was an easy advantage that we made sure to take. Shehzad and I practiced nonstop for the 72 hours before the filming; we bunkered down in the same house, shared the same commute, and recited the same words over and over and over.
We focused on delivering a clear and consistent message and not necessarily on the exact wording, and made sure that we were conveying the most important information. It’s easy to meander and get lost in the details – we wanted to grab interest and set up the Q&A for the real deep dives. A polished pitch conveys and instills confidence. Our best advice is to not be the entrepreneur that was unprepared!
Preparing for Questions
My absolute favorite part of any pitch or presentation – the Q&A.
To prep for questions, I watched about 6 seasons of Shark Tank and made notes on every question the contestants were faced with. I nagged our CEO for time to go over the cap table. Going into the Lions’ Den, I knew the details of our convertible note more intimately than my student loan papers.
And while most of the questions weren’t included on the segment that aired on TV, it’s here that we really convinced Darshan to invest. Our extensive research around our existing investors allowed us to answer his drilling questions and capture his attention with names such as Alykhan Nathoo from Helios, Rishi Varma, and Techstars Ventures. It was a great chance to show that we were after smart money and did our own research.
Appearing on Lions’ Den was definitely a wild moment and has since become an incredibly valuable one for Bamba. From successfully acquiring new clients to having eager prospective partners cold-calling us, the reach of the KCB show was pretty amazing for its first season.
My Final Thoughts
If ever pitching in front of investors or seizing an opportunity like Lions’ Den, I can sum up my advice on how to give yourself the best shot at securing funding:
- Do your homework – have answers for any question the Lions or any savvy investor would ask
- Have a strong team that believes in you – this will make it easier for the Lions to as well
- Make sure you appear with at least 1 founder of the company – this conveys the company’s commitment and gives you the ability to negotiate on the spot
- Prepare a quick demo – this shouldn’t be the focus of the presentation, just an attention catcher that drives your value home
- Practice a succinct and confident pitch
- Practice some more. Be prepared for questions that demand hard numbers and projections