Inbar opened the panel with a dedication to XR startup founders and then touched briefly upon XR industry trends, including the recent startup boom and increase in investments.
Inbar then passed the floor to Hayne, who spoke on Vive X and their mission to accelerate and grow the XR market.
The Panel then began discussing common questions of startup founders:
Q: What are some tips on how to go about finding and pitching to investors now, when normal in-person meetings aren’t impossible
· Some of the best pitches are inside your own product. Since we’re all doing virtual pitches now, if you can pitch inside your own product it is not only unique and memorable, but it also lets investors see your product and experience it for themselves.
· By now, you have to be an expert on zoom. Because pitches aren’t happening in person and people have more time, more pitches are happening than ever before. Find a way to make yourself stand out, whether that be your company or you personally. Additionally, it’s best to rehearse your pitch several times and keep it short and sweet: 6 slides addressing what’s the problem? What is your solution? Why is it growing so quickly? Why are you the best team out there? Why now?
· In terms of finding investors now as compared to pre-COVID, honestly not much has changed. Even before, there wasn’t a lot of door to door canvassing, finding investors was about emailing, contacting on social media, and using recommendations and connections from friends. That’s all stayed the same.
· Qualify your presentation with who you’re presenting to. Know where their level of knowledge on the field is and meet them there.
Q: How can you find angel funds?
· The platform AngelList
Q: What, if any, is the difference between US and EU investors?
· US investors tend to be more familiar in the space than UK investors. American investors expect you to conquer the world, where UK investors expect you to conquer the UK. US investors are often more willing to take a chance on less information; UK investors will most likely want more information up front that US investors won’t ask for until later.
· The EU is catching up fast, but you could be dealing with a more cash starved ecosystem. If you’re looking for investments in a cash-starved space, find investors who have already invested in the space, who already feel comfortable there.
Q: What are some areas of interest that you see growing in the next twelve months.
· More of the same. It’s never been a better time to be a founder
· One thing [Haynes] would love to see more of is angel investors withing Europe. We also need to see more founders supporting founders in the EU.
Q: Any “Quick Tips?”
· Right now it’s not about starting an XR company, it’s about starting a company that can collaborate in existing spaces
· Think outside of the box, go to angel investors. Don’t make XR for XR’s sake, solve a problem in another sector where XR is the best solution, but not the focus
· If you’re starting something new, build up a network around you of mentors and other founders who can help you.
They then moved to questions from the audience:
Q: What’s happening right now in Consumer XR?
· A lot is happening right now in fitness, gaming is beginning to reach the point where bigger money is entering, and companies with larger fan bases are entering the market, able to invest in higher quality content.
· Growth in social spaces like Roblox
Q: What do investors look for in early stage investments before the product is out yet
· Someone Who can pitch a really detailed picture of the future, where if even 1% of it comes true, the investor wants to be a part of it.
· What is the problem this is serving, who is the customer, and why now?
Q: How important is it to have a background in XR as a founder?
· Don’t be drawn in by investors where you keep a lot of control, because you’re betting that you will know everything you need to on your own. Don’t think about it in terms of “where am I getting my money from,” think about it as recruiting. You can’t hire someone with years of expertise, but if you can get them to invest in your company, you get them on your team.
Q: How do you convince VCs who have felt burned before?
· Find people who are believers. Certainly, have a good argument, but there are enough believers to secure your first half-a-million or million in funding, and the naysayers will just have to miss out. If you’re kissing frog, kissing harder isn’t going to make it a prince. Know when to walk away.
Q: What about companies who have had to pivot due to COVID-19 restrictions, in particular location-based XR.
· At this point, if you need to be funded so that you can stay alive through the pandemic, it’s about storytelling. Investors have to think long-term, so address how you plan to survive now, but also what you’re going to do in the world after.
Q: How would you go about pitching a studio?
The challenge with studios is market and scalability. You’re charging for your time, and there’s a cap on that. Studios aren’t really a fit for VCs, because studios can’t produce the growth that VCs are looking for.
After fielding questions from the audience, the meeting then moved into Engage, where networking and asking more individual questions took place in VR.
Check out the video of the event here:
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