We analysed over 8,000 questions put to founders by investors on Seedrs. Here’s what they asked about.
A key part of any fundraise is investor Q&A. Whilst a pitch deck provides the general topline narrative, investors will invariably need to dig into more detail on your business, and getting your responses right is important. When you’re crowdfunding, this is no different; replying to investors’ questions and managing the campaign discussion board is crucial to running a successful campaign.
So, what sort of questions can you expect? To help, we’ve done a little analysis on what are the most common questions we see asked, and here are the results.
A quick note on the methodology: to create this blog we analysed the topic titles from the campaign discussion boards to find the most commonly occurring words and phrases. Due to the way investors phrase their questions, often with specificity to certain businesses/products, the number of questions reported in any given topic below are likely to be lower than the actual. For example, if an investor referenced specific competitors of a business in the question title, rather than the word ‘competitor’, this would not be included in the ‘competitor’ grouping.
- Financials: Revenues/sales & burn rate
Sitting at the top of the list, the most common thing investors wanted to dig into was the business’s financials. Accounting for over 600 questions, 73% of businesses were quizzed on this topic as investors sought to get the hard facts on their traction to date. Investors typically wanted details on the revenue/sales channels, their performance over time, as well as the relationship between this performance, the valuation and investment sought/raised to date. The business’s burn rate often came under scrutiny, as did the financial projections for the years ahead.
- Competition & Market
In second place were questions about the market and potential competition. The topic accounted for 513 questions, with 60% of all businesses in the data set being asked about it. In particular, investors wanted to know who a business’s competitors were (both domestically and internationally), how their proposition differed from the competition, and what were the barriers to their product being copied by incumbent companies in the sector. On average, these questions were read by 315 other investors.
- Valuation/price of the round
Next up was the business’s valuation. 464 valuation questions were asked – around 5% of the total questions analysed – with 57% of business being quizzed on the topic. The typical questions that arose were requests for the valuation to be justified, and for any change (or lack thereof) in valuation between the current and previous rounds to be explained. An often tricky subject, questions about valuation represented 7 of the top 10 longest discussions on Seedrs campaigns, with no less than 35 comments on each. On average, a question about valuation drew 7 replies and comments from the business and other investors.
- Other investors in the round
A popular request of founders was for additional detail on who the other (non crowd) investors in the round were, as crowd investors sought to understand who else was backing the business. 35% of founders were asked about this, accounting for 3% of all questions asked. Primarily, the investors wanted to know who were the existing investors and shareholders in the business, what their shareholdings were, and what the expertise and background of the lead investors were.
Perhaps unexpectedly, before parting with their cash investors were keen to know about the outlook for returns. As such, exit strategy is high on the list with 260 questions asked. Investors wanted to know what the target exit valuation and time frame were, as well as if there would be any opportunities for early exits such as share buy backs. Confirming that the business would provide investors with early liquidity opportunities by listing on the Seedrs Secondary Market also appeared frequently.
Next up, investors wanted to get to grips with the product side of the business. 26% of businesses were asked about their product roadmap and development, and for non digital businesses sourcing, supply chain and production costs were hot topics.
Appearing at number 7 on the list with 100 questions, was the topic of the team. Whilst team information is provided on the Seedrs campaign’s page, investors generally asked for more details on the experience and background of the management team. Questions about recent notable exits from the management team – such as a C-level person leaving the company – were common, as were questions about the churn rate of the wider team (although this tended to be asked of later stage businesses). The balance of the team (for example tech heavy vs sales heavy), and any specific gaps, both in the leadership team and company as a whole, provoked questions.
Other noticeable trends:
- EIS & SEIS were frequently asked about, with investors largely wanting to know how much of the allowance was left.
- Perks/Rewards: Unique to businesses crowdfunding, perks and rewards for investors were frequently asked about. 118 questions were asked, but each question and answer drew almost 300 views on average from other investors.
And what about the answers?
Whilst we haven’t yet done a deep analysis of the answers to these questions (we might save that for the next blog), we did spot a couple of interesting trends about how businesses responded to questions.
First, and perhaps unsurprisingly, we saw that the quicker founders and the team responded to questions, the quicker the campaign funded. Whilst the 20 slowest responding businesses took 36 days on average to hit their target, the 20 fastest responding businesses took just 18 days – that’s twice as fast.
Not only that, the 20 quickest responding businesses saw a 29% higher average investment size into their campaign than the 20 slowest responding businesses, possibly indicating that the greater effort you go to with your investors, the more you earn their confidence.
So in short, it pays to be good at Q&A, and hopefully this blog helps you to be more prepared for what you might face.