No company can succeed without some form of financial backing - whether it comes from internal or external sources. When you are looking to convince outside investors that your venture is worth funding, how should you craft your argument? How do you convince investors that your business is worth supporting over the countless other proposals out there? The answer: You need a compelling equity story.
What's an equity story?
Your equity story is a list of reasons why investors should buy stock in your company. It should include information about your previous successes, your current business model, and your future goals. Ask yourself what information you would require before you decide to fund a company - essentially, that’s what you need to present within your equity story.
However, while every business owner will be aware that they should never enter a discussion with potential investors without being fully prepared, knowing exactly what information your backers will find noteworthy or convincing is not always obvious. Fortunately, RocketX is here to help. Your equity story provides the foundation behind any successful investment journey. We’ll take you step-by-step through the process of making your equity story one that investors simply can’t say no to.
Why is your equity story important?
Your equity story will ultimately determine whether you achieve the funding that your business needs - or if your startup will go the way of so many others and end up on the corporate scrap heap. It’s crucial for both business owners and prospective investors.
There are many businesses that could eventually have gone on to change the world that, unfortunately, fizzled out - not because they offered a poor product or the market wasn’t ready - but due to a lack of funding. A more compelling equity story could have resulted in a very different outcome. For investors, meanwhile, countless businesses present themselves as the next big thing, pleading for financial backing. A good equity story helps separate the good investments from the poor ones.
What are the elements of an equity story?
Before businesses can get to work creating a compelling equity story, they first need to understand what exactly an equity story is. In the most simple terms, an equity story tells investors why they should buy shares in a particular company. As a document, it should include a wealth of information - both concrete facts and business metrics, combined with more narrative elements describing your values and goals.
Here are some of the elements most commonly found within an equity story:
- A description of your company
- A list of company assets
- The problem you're solving
- The solution you have for this problem
- The competition
- Competitive advantage (Or the "economic moat" as Warren Buffett likes to say)
- Your team
- Customer acquisition (including the channels you're using)
- Company financials
- The market size, trends, and challenges
- Your value proposition
- Your business model
- KPIs that show distinctive traction
- A roadmap with 3+ years of high-level planning
- Your funding need
What makes a good equity story?
Obviously, crafting a good equity story is about much more than simply listing a few facts and figures. To make your equity story truly compelling, you need to sell your vision for the company, combining it with a convincing rationale for why investors should buy your stock. Of course, metrics are important, so make sure your valuation is attractive and provide solid statistics around your growth thus far and your projections for the future.
Often, businesses will format their equity story as a pitch deck, so getting the design right here is essential to creating a good equity story. A good pitch deck design should follow a few simple rules:
- Be bold: Use bright colors to accentuate the key information
- Keep things simple: Don’t bombard your prospective investors with too much data
- Focus on your solutions:Connect market pain points to your business offering
How do you create your equity story?
Now you know what an equity story is and some of the core features it should include, here’s our step-by-step guide looking at exactly how you can create an equity story that will prove difficult to walk away from.
Step 1: Get your documents in order
Formal documentation plays an important role in supporting your equity story. These include an analyst presentation or a long-form report. Have these on hand so when potential inventors ask for them, they are ready to go.
Step 2: Share your history and financial background
Although your potential investors may be early adopters, it is unlikely that they will provide funding unless your business has some (albeit limited) financial history to share. This is likely to include the year of founding, your turnover, sales figures, and any other metric you can think of. Assume your investors know nothing about your company.
Step 3: Share your history and financial background
The decision of whether to invest or not doesn’t only depend on your business - it is also impacted by your target market. Provide details on the industry you are entering, its maturity, and any current trends. Market size could also be a crucial factor, as investors (especially those that are primarily involved with venture capital funding) often aim for a market worth in excess of $1 billion.
Step 4: Layout your strategy
Prospective investors will want to see that you have a plan for your company’s growth - your equity story is your chance to outline it. Think both short and medium-term, and explain how you’ll leverage market trends to deliver success.
Step 5: List your competitors
Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum and neither do investment decisions. In your equity story, make it clear that you have detailed knowledge of your competitive environment. Feel free to make comparisons with existing players but also ensure they always remain relevant to your target market - and your target investors. Outline what makes you unique!
Step 6: Highlight your personnel
They say that a company’s greatest asset is its employees - so be sure to shout about them in your equity story. Investors will be keen to know who is leading your team and if they have previous industry experience. Having individuals with relevant experience can provide huge reassurances to investors.
Step 7: Outline your goals
No matter how successful you've been so far, investors will want to see that you have ambitions moving forward. State your goals and how you plan to achieve them. And remember, it’s okay to be ambitious, but stay realistic.
Step 8: Outline your goals
Just like your business, your equity story should be constantly evolving. As the story of your company develops, update your equity story. That will tell current and future investors that there is more to come from your organisation.
Equity story examples
Multinational healthcare firm Roche opens its equity story with a clear statement outlining the company aim, before moving on to some key figures, including its employee numbers, sales and profits. Its market position, its strategy, and its reasons for success are all clearly outlined.
Airbnb, or AirBed & Breakfast as it was known in its early days, managed to generate funding with a pitch deck that clearly conveyed its business plan in a simple and straightforward manner. Its business model - taking 10% from each transaction - was also compelling. The company is now worth in excess of $75 billion - more than the three largest hotel chains combined
The success of Uber’s equity story lies in the way it was able to clearly explain a market pain point and offer an innovative solution. Its first pitch deck set in motion an investment journey that has seen Uber’s IPO valuation hover around the $120 billion mark.
Of course, no two equity stories should be the same and businesses should be careful to ensure that their equity story doesn’t come across as generic or a copy of any of the above examples. You want to convince investors why your business - more than any other - is worthy of their hard-earned cash.
Who should tell your equity story?
Your management team should ultimately be the ones to tell your equity story. They will formulate your company’s strategy, drive it forward, and be directly involved in conversations with prospective investors. They will also be the ones held responsible for achieving the aims set out in your equity story - and will have to explain to investors how the company has been successful.