Will Dracup, CEO of Biosignatures tells us about his experience of pitching to a panel of investors, at Entrepreneurs of the North - a special event organised by the Innovation SuperNetwork.
How would you describe your business?
Our mission is to replace biopsies with blood tests which will improve the quality of life for patients and save health care systems considerable cost. Our first test, for prostrate cancer, has just passed its first clinical trial.
How long has your company been in operation/what stage of development are you at?
We have been in development for nine years and have now completed a successful clinical trial for prostate cancer and have other tests in development. We expect to sign our first commercial agreement in 2018.
What level of funding are you seeking and what would this enable you to achieve?
At this stage we are looking for £2m to complete the development and commercialisation of our first product, a blood test for prostate cancer. Follow on funding rounds will be required for further tests for other cancers.
How essential is this funding to your future growth?
Absolutely essential. The company needs funding to complete product development and get to market. Clinicians want these tests and adequate funding will deliver them faster.
Have you had experience of raising finance in the past and if so, how was this?
Yes, so far the company has raised funds via angels and venture capital. It has, at times, been difficult which is why the company now needs to raise larger amounts so it can focus on product development.
How did you prepare for the event?
FinanceCamp ran some pitch presentation workshops with an expert called Dan Bond to help us to prepare and make the most of the opportunity. These really helped us focus on the key messages of our presentation.
How did you find the experience of pitching to/talking to the investors?
Excellent, it was great experience and we got a lot of interest from the audience that we will be following up. Access to London investors who wouldn't usually venture North is very important. There is less and less investor presence in the North, particularly large VC and PE. These events are essential to connect northern businesses with large investors.
Did anything surprise you about the experience of pitching to a roomful of London investors?
Nothing about the pitch itself was particularly surprising or unusual. However, given the level of investment we are looking for, we were pleasantly surprised about the quality and number of investors present at the event that were interested in an investment of that size. The number of connections we made definitely exceeded our initial expectations.
Were there any similarities/differences between pitching to London and local investors?
Ultimately, wherever an investor is located, they’re all looking for the same thing, which is a great idea or product they can invest in and a credible management team they can support.
The main difference, of course, is usually the amount they can invest which attracted us to this particular event and we were not disappointed on that front.
What words of advice would you give to anyone preparing to pitch for investment?
Keep your message simple, clear and focused. Tell them what problem have you identified, how you are going to solve it and how you will take it to market. Deliver it all with enthusiasm and passion, be likeable and leave them wanting to know more.