A lunch meeting with an investor provides the opportunity to interact in a more relaxed atmosphere than what you’ll find in typical investor meetings. It’s a chance to build rapport and get to know the investor better. It’s also a nice opportunity to strengthen your investment thesis by providing color and anecdotes supporting your strategic initiatives.
But just because it’s not a conventional business meeting doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. On the contrary, whether it’s with a potential new investor or an update with an existing investor, these informal situations include plenty of opportunities to make costly mistakes.
Here are five don’ts for having lunch with an investor:
1. Don’t be too relaxed. While the lunch meeting setting is informal, you still have to be professional. Most importantly, make sure that in the course of friendly conversation that anything you say adheres to Regulation FD. Remember that in a private meeting you cannot discuss any material information that you haven’t disclosed publicly.
2. Don’t be too formal. On the other hand, investors have plenty of opportunities to engage in formal meetings at conferences and non-deal roadshows. So resist the urge to just walk the investor through your presentation deck. Use some of the time to get to know each other and build rapport. Tell an entertaining story or two!
3. Don’t talk off the cuff. If you completely “wing it,” there is a potential to mix up details. Review your talking points or Q&A prep and be prepared. You don’t want to accidentally move timelines with respect to product launch expectations, for example. If the investor asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, feel free to tell him that you’ll need to get back to him. Just make sure that you do so.
4. Don’t let the meeting run too long. Expectations for the time spent at lunch will be longer than the typical 30-minute meeting, but respect the fact that investors may be busy. Don’t plan to take their whole afternoon – or, worse, have an hour lunch planned that you extend by talking too much or providing needless detail. Nobody appreciates that, so make the most of the hour or so that you have.
5. Don’t fail to ensure you have a goal. You should have a goal for each meeting. Know the investor and what they are looking to get out of the meeting. This requires doing work up front. If it’s a new investor, be prepared by knowing their investment philosophy, some of the holdings in their fund, and how your company can fit. Steer the conversation to how your company’s positive investment thesis fits their investing profile.
For an existing holder, is it just an update meeting or do they have a specific concern? Come to the meeting knowing the specific message that that you want to share and don’t let the investor leave without imparting that key information!
Investor meetings are usually pressure-filled, and they should be. Your investors are the lifeblood of your business, after all. And while lunch can be a great opportunity to establish some personal rapport with an investor, don’t let the seemingly casual atmosphere tempt you into letting your guard down too much. Have a plan and be prepared.
For help with an upcoming investor meeting, or for a deeper conversation about IR strategy, just reach out.