What are investors looking for in a pitch? Hear it from the experts

Learn more about the experts tasked with selected the LaunchMe cohort and what they are looking for in a pitch.

Every April, LaunchMe selects up to seven ambitious social entrepreneurs and supports them on their journey to scale.

Getting selected for the LaunchMe cohort is no easy task – shortlisted participants receive intensive business support to get their business plan and pitch ready to face the Expert Panel, a group of sector experts tasked with selecting the final participants.

Expert Panel members come from the investment, finance, and social enterprise sectors. They bring their varied backgrounds, experiences, and expertise together to select the participants that will benefit most from the LaunchMe support and, ultimately, secure investment to achieve their scale-up plans.

So, who are these experts, and what will they be looking for when they come together to select the participants this week?

Event audience looks at the speakers with Firstport banner showing on the right.
Firstport event

The Expert Panel 2022

Kathryn Nicolson. Before moving to Scotland to study accountancy and law, Kate started and ran an enterprise agency in Wales that supported long-term unemployed people into business. After graduating, she became the Chief Executive of Social Firms Scotland and was also a founding director of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition. She now works for Barclays Bank and has been involved in the bank’s recent focus on social enterprise support programmes. She is also a trustee of her local Development Trust in Fife.

Bob Hair. Bob is the Regional Head of Cazenove Capital, the wealth management business of Schroders plc. in Scotland. He helps entrepreneurs and business owners to ensure that their financial and investment affairs are optimal and sustainable in an ever-evolving world.

Ruth Milliken. Ruth works for Dunelm Energy, a consultancy and investment company passionate about advising, making connections, and assisting companies and individuals where they can. Dunelm Energy has an ever-increasing interest in the social enterprise sector. Ruth leads Dunelm Energy’s day to day operations and social interests. She also sits on the Firstport board of directors.

Josiah Lockhart. As Firstport Group Chief Executive, Josiah is responsible for governance and strategy work across Firstport, FirstImpact, and Impact Investment Partnership Scotland. He represents the group in national and international forums and liaises with the Scottish Government on sector outcomes. Josiah holds the roles of Chair for Scotland Can Do Green Economy Collab and Governance Lead for Scotland Can B. He is a regular judge for start-up business competitions such as the Converge Challenge.

Pitching it right

Financial viability and clarity of vision and ambition are important; however, the element Ruth Milliken is looking for in a pitch is Leadership.

“I want to see social entrepreneurs who have an openness and eagerness to learn and to be challenged. I want to see passion, authenticity, honesty, and transparency – for example, are they self-aware and able to say what they do not know or where they need help?

“And finally, I want to understand who else is supporting them. Can they see that they need people around them to walk the road ahead, help govern the organisation and hold them accountable? Creativity and a healthy risk appetite are always lovely to see also.”

Headshot of Ruth Milliken
Ruth Milliken

Over the years, Josiah has seen dozens of social entrepreneurs pitch for a place in LaunchMe. For him, a clear vision for how their social enterprise will scale up its business and impact, along with an idea of what needs to be overcome to achieve it, is most important. “A good pitch will show a clear strategy for identifying, measuring, and reporting on their social and environmental impact, and of course, a clear investment ask with a strategy for how to repay it.”

What makes a good social enterprise, and what I will be looking for in the LaunchMe candidates, is that magic mix of a business brain doing things for the right reasons; using trading to achieve a sustainable social purpose,” said Kath Nicholson.

“What has always excited me about social enterprise is the drive and passion of the people involved who don’t do it for their benefit, but for those who need a little help to create their own better futures. Good business should be about improving the lot of everyone, and social enterprise is one of the best models to make this happen.”

Kath Nicholson, Barclays Bank

Food for thought

Whether you are pitching in front of the Expert Panel this week or thinking about seeking social investment in the future, there is plenty of good advice and tips in this blog that you can incorporate into your next pitch.

Our main takeaways?

  • Be clear about your proposition and vision
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of how the business will generate income and measure its social impact
  • Display leadership, passion, and self-awareness

We cannot wait to hear who makes it onto the final LaunchMe cohort. Keep an eye on our website and socials, we will announce the final cohort at the end of April!

You can find out more about the LaunchMe Alumni by reading their case studies and learn more about social investment by checking out our Social Investment blog series.