When you are competing for capital in a traditional IPO or a SPAC-related PIPE transaction, you only have one chance to make a first impression. The stakes are high and hanging in the balance is access to the capital you need to scale your company and accelerate your industry leadership. Are you ready to deliver a game-changing presentation? 

Here’s what you’re up against:

  • You’ll most likely have less than an hour to convince savvy institutional investors to take a bet on your business model and ability to execute. 
  • You’ll be presenting to people you’ve never met before who will be putting you under a microscope.  
  • It is generally a tough crowd — portfolio managers who say no for a living and sit through countless presentations just like yours every year. Expect them to be sometimes jaded and hard to impress.
  • Some investors may come to the meeting with genuine interest; others will know next to nothing about your company and make you work hard to educate and engage them. 
  • A portion of your audience will have no intention of owning your stock; they’re there mostly to get market intelligence because they own a competitor.
  • Others will go straight to Q&A rather than allowing you to present your story. They will ask a series of granular questions on topics and risk factors that give them the information they need to decide if they want to participate in the transaction or not.  

A well-crafted and delivered presentation is critical to overcoming these obstacles and completing a successful IPO. Indeed, a roadshow presentation is perhaps the most important sales pitch a CEO and CFO ever make. 

Your presentation must tell a concise and compelling story about why investors should buy your stock. Keep in mind that an investor’s why has more to do with whether they believe your company can deliver a compelling return on their investment rather than understanding the detailed features and benefits of your products or services. Simply put, you need to answer the question: Why is your company a better investment opportunity relative to the thousands of other publicly traded companies they can invest in?  

What some executives don’t fully appreciate is that investors are betting on your leadership team’s ability to execute your strategy. First impressions count; they want to quickly size you up and judge whether you are credible and capable of delivering on your promises. 

Here are three key recommendations for a successful IPO roadshow presentation.  

1. Know Your Audience and What They Care About  

Success starts with knowing the Wall Street audience and what they care about. Key attributes investors value are execution track record, strategic vision, management quality, sustainable competitive advantages, and effective capital allocation. Your presentation must address the following questions:  

  • What do you do? What unique problem do you solve?  
  • What is your market opportunity and what part of that market can you capture over the next several years? 
  • What is your growth strategy and what are the growth drivers? 
  • Who is your competition and what are your sustainable competitive advantages?
  • What is your business model — how do you make money?
  • What is your plan for value creation near and longer-term? Why will your company be worth more a year from now than it is today? 
  • What is your financial position? How will the proceeds from the transaction be used to drive growth and returns?  
  • What is the background of the leadership team and what have they done in the past that would give investors comfort they can execute? Who is the “bench” that will support management in executing the growth plan?
  • What are the intangibles that drive value creation for your company? 
  • What metrics and milestones are most important in benchmarking progress against the plan? 
  • What is your ESG story/narrative? 
  • What are the key risks associated with owning your company’s stock, and how are you mitigating them? 
2. Prepare for Each Meeting Like It’s the Most Important Sales Pitch Ever

Beyond understanding the Wall Street audience, you need to prepare for each meeting on your IPO roadshow. One size does not fit all. Investors have distinct approaches to decision-making ranging from growth to value orientations. Each investment manager screens for specific characteristics that align with their investment objectives. You need to know what those are so you can map your investment story to their stated investment parameters and anticipate their questions and objections. 

Ahead of each meeting, you should know: What are the firm’s assets under management (buying power) and portfolio turnover? What is their ownership profile in your sector/peers? What is their investment style? What can you determine about their investment criteria that make them a potential buyer of your stock? As with any good sales call, knowing the backgrounds of the people at the meeting is very helpful in making a personal connection right off the bat.     

3. Practice Delivering the Presentation and Prepare Diligently for Q&A

Remember, your presentation will only be winning if you deliver it winningly. Most companies realize that effective delivery skills are a competitive advantage and set time aside for formal presentation training ahead of an IPO roadshow. Beyond delivering the presentation, it’s very important to diligently prepare for the Q&A, because it is often more important than the presentation itself. 

In the Q&A, investors want to see if management can think on their feet and answer unanticipated and sometimes tricky questions. With an investor audience, understanding the intent of the question is also important – what are they trying to get at or what are they missing? Every question offers an opportunity to reinforce your investment thesis, drive home a key message that will add to their understanding — but it’s impossible to navigate the process to the best outcome without thorough preparation.  

In our experience, even the most talented and comfortable executive presenters benefit from rigorous presentation and Q&A training ahead of videotaping the roadshow or embarking on the first IPO roadshow meeting. Many of the techniques of classic media training — bridging, pivoting, and flagging work well for a Wall Street presentation. Today, it’s also important to prepare for virtual engagements, which have their own specific hurdles.  

So, get to work and remember that the road to a successful IPO is paved with exhaustive preparation. The investment in planning a stand-out presentation can pay huge dividends: namely, the growth capital you need to make your vision a reality.  

Good luck! And bear in mind that there’s nothing accidentally “lucky” about a great roadshow presentation. 

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