5 ways to make your start-up stand out to investors

5 ways to make your start-up stand out to investors

5 ways to make your start-up stand out to investors

Securing investment for a concept can be particularly challenging in a competitive environment. Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, offers his advice on how to catch the eye of investors and clinch that all-important funding.

The region’s F&B sector is full of opportunities, but with investors spoilt for choice when deciding where to channel their money, securing funds to kickstart a venture is an incredibly competitive task. The key to attracting the attention of the investment community is to ensure that your project stands out from the crowd. This can be done in several ways, but as a priority, it’s important to:

1-Utilize social media to showcase your progress

One of the first things I do when I hear about a brand for the first time is to look at its digital presence. I’ve often found that what a brand posts across its social media channels, from the tone of voice used to its visual identity, reveals far more than you’d get from a 50-slide presentation. Use platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) to showcase what you’re working on, your achievements and your successful deliveries. Post high-quality images of your food creations, share customer testimonials and provide regular updates on your project’s progress. A strong online presence can pique investor interest and conveys credibility.

2-Network, but network right

We all know that networking is important, but how often do we think carefully about the ROI that a particular event or meeting is going to produce? Industry-specific events and conferences provide ideal opportunities for meeting investors, making connections and gaining valuable insights. Being well prepared is critical, too. We’ve all heard about the elevator pitch – make sure you have yours ready, since you never know who you’re going to bump into.

Becoming a member of industry-related associations and clubs can help you access a network of like-minded individuals and potential investors. As a board member of The Middle East Food Forum and the UAE Restaurants Group, I’ve seen firsthand how these platforms provide opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals who can open doors, provide advice and help you weather the challenges of entrepreneurship. Mentorships are especially useful, offering a way to gain invaluable guidance from successful industry experts.

Public forums and discussion panels should be another focal point, since they provide a platform to showcase your expertise and build your reputation as a thought leader in the F&B industry. Ask insightful questions and actively participate in discussions to make yourself stand out.

3-Stay informed

To navigate discussions effectively, keep up to date on industry trends, market dynamics and relevant regulations. Investors will want to feel confident that you are well-versed in the nuances of your chosen sector before making a positive decision, so read industry publications, attend seminars and engage in ongoing learning to keep your knowledge current.

4-Demonstrate your commitment

Before handing over their hard-earned cash, investors need to see that you have ‘skin in the game’ too. This isn’t necessarily financial; it could be the time that you invest or the passion that you display to make the joint venture work. Be willing to invest your own resources, showcase the groundwork that you’ve done to bring your idea to fruition and, crucially, make sure that your commitment doesn’t tail off once you’ve received investment and have someone else on board.

5-Develop a solid financial model

Finally, always remember the number one reason why investors invest, which is to make money. You can have the best concept, but without a strategic approach and a solid financial model that’s full of revenue streams, cost structures and growth projections, investors are not going to consider it a viable proposition. Once developed, make sure you understand your model so that you confidently explain it to others.

Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality

Naim Maadad,
chief executive
and founder of Gates Hospitality

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