By Michael Quigley, Director of Research, LSN
When speaking with investors during the past week, I made a point of asking what information they look for on a life science company’s website in order to determine if they want to have a more in-depth conversation. The responses tended to be very similar despite coming from investors in multiple categories, including traditional VCs and family offices. Here are the six items that were most cited.
A Clear and Concise Description of What a Company Is Trying to Achieve
Your firm’s tagline should be the first thing that catches investors’ attention when they come to your website. In approximately four to eight words, your tagline should describe simply and adroitly your value added. You should elaborate on this in an elevator pitch, which describes your technology and mission in four to six sentences. Both your tagline and elevator pitch should describe your technology in a fundamental way that can be easily understood by people without a scientific background. Having these items supported by a few relevant images or a video is something that can really help investors visualize and better comprehend what it is that makes your investment opportunity interesting. By keeping the initial message as simple as possible, you can grab the interest of investors who may not be scientific experts in your particular field.
Information that Elaborates on the Opportunity
After catching investors’ interest with your tagline, elevator pitch, and visuals, you need to elucidate the market opportunity for your technology. This means clarifying the target market, its size, and any niche area that highlights the unmet need. Many technologies have the potential to target multiple indications and serve more than one market. However, it is very important that you demonstrate which of those markets you are targeting first. The majority of investors look for focused companies that have a clear path to a value-inflection point or exit. I am not advising against mentioning other possible uses for your technology, as these can add value to your opportunity. However, it is imperative that you make your immediate plans clear to investors.
A Company’s Complete Funding History
All of the investors who I spoke with specifically mentioned having a complete funding history available on the website. They said it makes it easier to decide whether or not to have a further conversation. Their preferences differed, however, with some investors looking for well-known institutional investors to already be on board, while other investors, particularly those that classify themselves as very early stage investors, prefer to be one of the first institutional sources of capital so that they can get in while the valuation is low and the cap table is still intact. NIH grants, incubator awards, a Series A round—investors want to know about all organizations that have invested in you and how much you have raised. By showing who has allocated capital to your company, you both establish credibility with investors and give them a better understanding of whether or not you are a fit for their investment mandates.
A company’s management is arguably its most important asset when garnering interest—and ultimately an allocation—from potential investors. Your website should list every member of your management team with a photo and a short biography that covers their career accomplishments thus far. Again, this establishes credibility by showing investors what the members of your core team have been involved in prior to now. It is also important to note that both successes and failures can establish credibility in the space. Some of the investors I have spoken with specifically mentioned that they like working with management teams that have had an unsuccessful company, as teams often learn more from failure than success. Many investors consider management as important as, and sometimes even more important than, the technology, so by giving them a small window into your management team, you have the chance to directly market one of your most influential assets.
The Origin of the Technology
Investors want to know where your technology came from. Did you in-license the product from a university or did you develop it in house? If the former, which university and how did that relationship come to be? Were there any strong academics working on the technology, and if so, what are their backgrounds? By answering these questions on your website, your story becomes more complete, allowing investors to more fully understand how your company came to be and why the investment opportunity is a good one.
The Replicability of the Results
Although not always available, having your results and data validated by a third party through replication, the gold standard of scientific research, is becoming an extremely valuable piece of information to present to potential investors. If you have this kind of validation, it is crucial that you include it on your website, as the inability to replicate results is becoming a growing problem.
By incorporating these items into your website, you will make the decision process easier for investors, which will in turn earn you responses more quickly and save your campaign valuable time. Additionally, by having this information easily accessible, you have the opportunity to learn why investors are interested in your technology—or why they aren’t. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses lets you further hone your message and improve your ability to market yourself. Your website will likely not be the deciding factor that pushes an investor to make an allocation. However, a good site can save you invaluable time by reaching more investors with increasing effectiveness, which ultimately improves your odds of success.
For more information on website messaging, see our new book, The Life Science Executive’s Fundraising Manifesto, and the “Establishing a Web Presence” chapter.