The odds for entrepreneurs pitching to business angels

Standing in front of a room of suited and booted business angels can be pretty terrifying for even the most experience entrepreneur. So we thought we’d help by calculating the success odds for entrepreneurs….

… that way, if this group of business angels doesn’t love your pitch right away, you can still leave with your head held high.

So, let’s carve the room up into 6 sections.

The first two sections will also be fellow entpreneurs here to pitch, along with their advisors.

So, from a room of 36 people, you can assume that only 24 are actually business angels.

Next, let’s divide the remaining angels into 4 groups – The Hustlers, The Sector Hunters, The Collaborators and the Money Men – and take a look at each.

The Hustlers

These angels are looking for a deal. Preferably a quick deal. Often they will insist on tough (unreasonable?) terms and will be certain to want to hold onto the business cheque book.

Can you do a deal with these angels? Perhaps – but only if your business model is in a well understood and in a clearly defined business sector where you have a high (relatively) degree of confidence about costs and income.

These angels don’t like concepts or theories. They prefer something they can touch.

Traditional business plans will be required and lots of patience, but for traditional businesses, these guys might be an alternative to banks.

The Sector Hunters

Sector driven angels are looking for a business in the sector in which they familiar.

The challenge for these angels is to see that different sectors boom at different times and that if they have built and sold a business in a given sector, then the chances are that things have moved on and they might need to change sector.

Of course, these angels will recognise this argument, but, when it comes down to getting out the cheque book, they want a relatively high degree of certainty and will often walk away from businesses with which they are less familiar.

Like The Hustlers, these business angels are looking for something they know, but with a new twist and preferable something they can see or touch – so that they can bring their sector experience to bear.

If you find an angel from your sector – then great – the rapport builds quickly and you can often find a valuable member of your team as much as the money you need.

The main trouble with business angel networks is that from a pool of hundreds of business angels may be 20 or 30 angels will attend – which means that chances of finding a sector specific angel are a bit thin. This will vary by region – so in West Midlands UK, you’ll find lots of automotive business angels. In Manchester you might find a few health care business angels and in London you’ll find lot more digital business angels.

The Collaborators

This group of angel investors are willing to look at most propositions and, rather than worry about the sector, they are looking at the management team. Can the team deliver? Can they match their promises and can they bring a team of effective people into the business to continue the innovation and rapid progress?

Of all the groups, this group is least likely to want to see a full business plan – they, after all, are investing in people and potential. The idea must be scaleable.

This group are good at handling concepts and things they can’t touch.

They are also likely to be interested in helping the business succeed and be willing to put in time to see the business achieve its goals – as well as to achieve their own investment goals.

The Money Men

Lastly, the final group of business angels is from a corporate finance or accountancy background. These guys care about the numbers and the business plan.

Typically, they will be traditional, but some may have experience of your sector.

Either way, they will quiz your business with logic and expect clear answers.

Of all the groups, these guys are the hardest to fathom.

Business Angel Odds…

Okay, so for all the pitching entrepreneurs – what do your odds look like?

Well, back to our room of 36 people – and 24 angels. If lucky, one quarter will fit the kind of business angel you are looking for. That makes 6 people potential angels in your proposition.

It is also likely that half of those angels are not really actively investing at the time of your pitch.

So, that gives us a figure of 3.


So, if you get 3 good conversations with business angels following your pitch, then you are probably doing well.

… and if you can convert those three conversations into 3 meetings, then you are doing exceptionally well.

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  • good look at the odds to a pitch but it is also getting those numbers to actually pitch to…v.interesting read…
  • My experience is that the crowd have at least 60% professional consultants attending for promoting their own agenda. But then 1 REAL investor can be what you need.
  • Gary Richardson
    From my experience the conversations on the day are to use a rather crude metaphor simply “flirtations” and the subsequent meetings where due diligence takes place “foreplay” and a deal should you get it “I’ll let you choose your own wording”. So the 3 conversations you consider to be success need to be depreciated further.
  • 🙂 that’s about it Gary…but as the comment below says, you often only need one investor…
  • True Halvor – I think most event organisors struggle between getting lots of people in the room to create energy (ie anyone invited) vs getting the right quality (ie active business angels)

    There is a strong view that you need to create greater demand for your investment than you can supply in order to close deals – so volume and momentum is very important for the entrepreneur.

    This also explains why the strategy for the business angel is often to take the conversation into a separate and private meeting – there is less competition there.

  • Anonymous
    No author listed. No date? Who wrote this? I would like to cite this article it’s undated with no author to credit.
  • Neil Lewis
    Hi Discus Thrower – Thanks – I wrote this piece (Neil Lewis) on 11th March.


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  • I run an angel network.

    Having time wasters pretending to be angels attend means that we will not get our 5% success fee.
    London and Hong Kong, especially, attract people who pretend to have money and so out of an audience of say 20, perhaps 2 of them might not actually have any money.
    If they attend 2 events and do not ask the “right” questions, we simply take them to one side and ask them a bunch of difficult questions, like … “what DO you want to invest in?” … we then set them up with meetings … if THESE then come to nothing, we quietly exclude them.
    If people try to sell to those pitching we chuck them out on the night.
    No dramas.

    We see an average of over 400 angels visit the site DAILY looking for real deals, these people ARE really keen to invest in a business that pays them more than the banks are currently paying …. there is no shortage of money out there.
    There is however a real shortage of fundable deals.

    We maximise the angels minimal resource, which is time.
    For every one business we allow to pitch, we have rejected 14.1 … so real angels know their time will not be wasted, which attracts clever money.

    The 8 people pitching will be the “best” that London, Edinburgh, Singapore, Doha etc has to offer that month.

    Time wasters are everywhere, they are a nuisance to both the companies and the networks … but its not a problem that keeps us awake at night. The damage they can do is minimal and the solution is relatively straightforward.

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