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Attracting Funding; Is Design the Missing Ingredient for Start-ups?

By Gemma Ní Maoltuile

Ireland has been consistently ranked among the top countries in Europe for starting a business by various international indices, such as the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. Ireland's well-developed ecosystem includes world-class research institutions, a skilled talent pool, favourable government policies, and a strong network of accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces.

However, a recent survey by Scale Ireland (State of Start-up Survey) revealed that access to finance is the biggest challenge facing Irish start-ups and scaling companies. Of the 248 tech startup founders and CEOs who contributed to the survey, 80% felt it was difficult or very difficult to attract capital, and 51.6% considered funding to be their biggest challenge in the last year. Other challenges included retention of staff, attraction of talent, tax and regulation burdens, and lack of expert advice and support.

So, what attracts investors or funding to a start-up? Is it the people, a scalable business model, innovation, the product/services, market opportunity, traction, validation, or financial projections? Regardless of the motivations, it is important to consider the importance of presentation.

According to a study by Prezi, 73% of people have decided not to do business with a company due to poor presentation design. Therefore, beyond the obvious factors highlighted above, here are some key areas of focus for start-ups to attract investors:

Pitch Presentation: Remember; you only have one chance to make a good first impression therefore it is a critical component in making a lasting first impression with investors. It is important to have a visually appealing, informative, engaging, and well-presented pitch deck that showcases your vision, mission, goals, storytelling, team, statistics, product/service, and other relevant investor-related visuals. A compelling pitch presentation should include all the necessary information and use visual stimuli to make it easy for investors to understand and connect with your business. (If you do get some time, review Ubers pitch deck which was originally designed back in 2008!)

Storytelling: Storytelling is important to investors looking at start-ups because it helps to establish an emotional connection with potential investors. Start-ups often have unique and innovative ideas, but it can be difficult to convey the potential impact of those ideas through data alone. By telling a compelling story about the problem the start-up is solving, the solution they have created, and the potential impact it could have, investors can better understand the company's potential and become more invested in its success. Storytelling can also demonstrate the passion and dedication of the founding team, which can be an important factor in convincing investors to take a chance on a start-up. Ultimately, by crafting a compelling narrative, start-ups can help to differentiate themselves from their competitors, build credibility, and secure the funding they need to bring their ideas to life.

Website: According to a Stanford research study, 94% of a website user’s first impressions are design-related and 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website design.

Your website can serve as a digital storefront for the company, providing investors (and lets not forget, potential talent) with a clear understanding of the company's vision, mission, and goals. A well-designed and informative website can help to establish credibility and legitimacy and showcase the unique value proposition of the start-up. The website can help to establish the start-up's brand identity and reputation. A strong visual identity and compelling content can help to differentiate the start-up from competitors and build trust with potential investors and talent.

Brand identity: Beyond the logo; a well-defined and considered brand helps a new company stand from the competition. Your brand is the foundation for the company; therefore, it is essential to give it the attention it deserves. By developing a clear and compelling brand identity, start-ups can establish themselves as leaders in their industry and drive long-term growth.

Vision, Mission, Values & Purpose: Investors often want to work with organisations that align with their interests, therefore it is important for start-ups to be clear on their vision, mission, values, and purpose. (Know "why" you get up every day!)

Tone of Voice: Developing a tone of voice is extremely important for companies because it helps to establish and reinforce their brand identity and personality. A consistent tone of voice across all channels, whether it be website copy, social media posts, marketing materials helps to create a cohesive and recognizable brand image. It also helps to differentiate a company from its competitors and can contribute to building trust and loyalty with customers. Additionally, tone of voice can help to humanise a company and create an emotional connection with your investors, which can be especially important for start-ups looking to establish themselves in a crowded market.

In summary, while Ireland offers a well-developed ecosystem for start-ups, access to finance remains a significant challenge. To attract funding, start-ups must focus on more than just their business model and innovation. A visually appealing pitch presentation, compelling storytelling, a well-designed website, a clear and compelling brand identity, a defined vision, mission, values, and purpose, and a consistent tone of voice are all critical components in making a lasting first impression with investors. By investing in these areas, startups can differentiate themselves from their competitors, build credibility, and ultimately secure the funding they need to bring their ideas to life

"Don't worry about failure; you only have to be right once" Drew Houston - Dropbox

At TapCreative we design brand experiences that challenge convention, disrupt categories, and drive brand growth, enabling you to connect with your customer in more meaningful ways.

Gemma Ní Maoltuile is the Director of Client Development of TapCreative.

She helps brands realise their ambition by understanding their needs and identifying opportunities

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