Clint Greaves is one of the panellists at our monthly business pitch event Pitch For Investment and also an investor in Othership. He comes from a background in finance, but being an investor is not what he would call a job. He believes in the businesses and people he invests in and wants them to scale up. He provides insights into the things that matter in a business pitch and in the time after fundraising.

Portrait of Clint Greaves

How would you describe your job?

Clint: My job? I don’t really have a job. I do a few different things, I guess. I’m mainly involved in technology businesses either in proptech or fintech or subscription-based businesses. My background has been in SMEs in finance and operational roles. What I do now, I work for portfolio companies in business development, I act as interim CFO. It’s all finance type activities. I do that for the UK side of a business from New Zealand in property and construction and a handful of other businesses that I’m involved in.

For how long have you been investing in businesses?

Clint: I’ve started my own business and have invested in that business for over 20 years. I’ve been investing in other people’s businesses for about 12 years.

Is there any industry you primarily invest in?

Clint: I mainly invest in proptech and fintech and SaaS, but I also invested in an online travel business. That’s a completely new sector for me.

How many business pitches have you heard over the years?

Clint: Definitely several hundred.

Is there one in particular that stuck to your mind?

Clint: Ben pitched to me and I invested in Othership. That was a phenomenally good pitch.

Were there any negative experiences over the years?

Clint: There’s been all sorts. If people start arguing with you that’s a bad sign. If you ask a question and they tell you that you’re wrong that’s a bad sign. At the same time, it is good if they defend their corner and are passionate. If people agree to everything you say, it is not great either. It is a balancing act for founders and people that are pitching between taking feedback on and standing your ground, showing that you understand what your business does and why you think that it’s going to work.

Another thing that is really off-putting is when you see a business pre-revenue that doesn’t have an MVP yet and they tell you how they make hundreds of millions of dollars or pounds next week.

What would you say is the number one mistake that most young businesses make when they’re raising funds?

Clint: Some businesses try to build too much, spend a lot of time and money, before they go out and test it and establish if there is even a market to solve that problem. Get an MVP and get it out quickly to test it so that you have evidence that demonstrates the problem and the solution that the market is interested in. That way they can show: If we can solve and scale, we can be worth this much. Without testing it is just a stab in the dark.

Which information do you need from a pitch to consider investing?

Clint: What is the problem they’re trying to solve? How are they doing it in a unique way? How are they different? How big is the market? How much revenue can they create if they solve the problem? And the last question: Can they do it? This comes down to the team or the people involved and their capabilities. If all those things line up, then I ask: How much will it take in terms of capital and time?

If they do all of that, I also ask: Are they creating something that will be defendable, or will it be easy for others to come in and replicate what they’re doing?

Another important aspect is: Do you like the people? Are they the people you’d be happy to have a drink with?

Would you say that you rather look at hard numbers or is it more of a gut feeling?

Clint: Kind of both. Especially with early-stage businesses, there are often no numbers. If there are, then I want to see the logic behind those numbers. How do these numbers apply to scaling? Do I think that they’re thinking about the right things? There is quite a lot of gut feel in there.

You mentioned the people and the team. Are you usually meeting the whole team before you make a decision?

Clint: I want to talk to more people than just the founder, not the whole team, but more than just the person that is the slickest to do the pitch.

After you invested, how often do you check in with them?

Clint: I like to be quite hands-on up to this point. Most people reach out to me for feedback and information, but it depends on the business. I’m interested in people that are in businesses they have years of experience in and know what they’re doing. The last thing you want as an investor is getting in the way of the business when it should be focusing on what it needs to do.

What do you expect from them once they got investment?

Clint: I want a clear plan that is identifying how they spend the money wisely and that they are going to spend it. There’s no point in raising and not spending it. It is hard if they have been bootstrapping and now come out of the frugal phase and have the capital to spend to grow their business. Time is your enemy in that situation, and you don’t want to be still a startup after 3 years.

Apart from that, I want regular updates on how things are going, and I want them to shout if they need anything, if anything weird or unexpected happens. For example, if there are some key partnerships planned and one of them is not going to happen. Bad news doesn’t get better with time and not communicating these things would be a red flag.

Do you have any top tips for businesses that are preparing to pitch?

Clint: They should be really concise with the deck that they put together: Less content but focus on the key points. If you have 5 minutes and you have a 10-minute deck, don’t talk twice as fast. Reduce your deck on the key things and deliver them really well. Clearly explain what the problem is that you solve, why that is important, how much it is worth, who you are and what you need the money for.

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