4 Critical Investment Pipeline Tips for Sub-Saharan Startups
February 8, 2024
Adam Wakefield
Investment pipelines makes funding a less tumultuous endeavor

Three pros in a meeting room visibly displeased with the image on their screen

Fundraising invokes a rollercoaster of emotions, but an investment pipeline offers a rail guard. It's easy to get caught up in the investor chase, constantly feeling like you're one fundraiser away from success or failure. An efficient investment pipeline maximises your odds of thriving and expanding regardless of the funding environment.

Together, we'll examine the different parts of a pipeline and walk you through the steps. We'll also provide a collection of resources to equip you with all you need to implement your pipeline, including templates and easy-to-follow case studies.

It's time to master the art of investor pipelines. 

Let's do this.

What is an investor pipeline? 

An investor pipeline is a system designed to attract, convert, and retain funders for a startup. It helps ensure that future opportunities for raising funds don't slip through the cracks. You won't rely on chance with such a tenacious funding strategy. You can convert opportunities to victories with well-choreographed pitching and follow-up processes. Make a compelling case while preventing mixed signals or communication gaffes from undermining your chances.

This systematic approach places your startup on a strategic journey where adequate funding is always within reach. 

Components of an investor pipeline

Certain components are critical to the success of an investor pipeline

A man making a presentation

Investor pipelines come in many forms and shapes. But there are fundamental features. 

Top of the funnel - investor targeting

At the initial stage of the fundraising funnel, you create, implement, and optimise investor targeting tactics. For this, you need to establish the purpose of your funding and the type of funding (private investment, grants, etc). 

Middle of the funnel: A persuasive pitching process

Next comes prospect warming. Strategic communication is critical here. Every conversation must advance a startup narrative that resonates with your prospects.

Bottom of the funnel - nailing negotiations

At this stage, you must find common ground and tweak your offers to create a win-win scenario. You also need a detail-oriented system to track and analyse the fundraising process for maximum impact.

Putting these together creates a dynamic system that helps you quickly scale barriers to investment.

5 steps to build an investor pipeline

Here are the key steps to success:

Establish the basics: 

Start strong to maximise your chances of success. The more time and energy you put into the groundwork, the stronger the foundation for your investor pipelines. Define your funding purpose - growth, capacity building, etc., funding amount, geographical focus, and the type of financing source. Also, examine your unique selling points.

Create an investor pipeline spreadsheet: 

Use your investor pipeline spreadsheet as a command centre to track and analyse details of interactions and investor updates.

Research your investors:

Here, you’ll analyse your investors, their investment patterns, preferences, and track records. Other factors include your funding options - venture capital, debt financing, strategic partnerships, private sector investors, etc.

Craft your pitch deck: 

The spotlight shines on your brand story here. You must master various aspects of your pitch deck, from the visuals to the data points, success stories, product presentations, economic development plans, etc.

Prioritise strategic communication: 

Excellent communication helps you fine-tune your investor experience. Identify the mode and channel of communication that works best for them.

Monitor progress and investor updates: 

Continuous monitoring and optimisation ensure that your fundraising funnel remains dynamic, steering your startup toward economic growth regardless of the funding environment.

4 Crucial investor pipeline tips 

Investment pipeline tips can help you get your financing acts together

Two colleagues in a cafe giving themselves a high five

1. Examine your business models and verticals of interest

The more aligned your prospects are with your funding vision, the greater your chances of succeeding. Ask questions like ‘Do I have a niche business?’ ‘Do I need to find investors that focus specifically on my type of investment opportunity?’ ‘Is it of value to work only with investors committed to my vertical?'

2. Use a dynamic strategy

You must be adaptive to thrive, adjusting your strategy according to feedback, funding eligibility, market changes, and the evolving needs of your startup. Explore a mix of funding types - direct investment, accelerators, grants, etc., and identify what works best in specific situations.

3. Leverage existing relationships with mentors, business circles, etc.

Real-time feedback from people around you can play a vital role in refining your approach and bridging the gap between your projections and what your investors want.

4. Maintain consistent follow-up

Consistent follow-up keeps your startup on the radar of potential investors. Also, treat your pipeline like a living project. Track your conversion rate, analyse response patterns, and optimise your pipeline regularly with data-driven insights.

Investment pipeline tools and resource pool

To help you hit the ground running, we’ve assembled this collection of tools and resources.

Investor pipeline templates

Fimark (Download link) 

Underscore

Notion

Sources of funding

Private capital and crowdfunding  

SeedInvest

Indiegogo 

Grant funding

Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)Funds for NGOs 

SPII 

Loans  

Green Energy Efficiency Fund (GEEF)

Business Partners Limited

Venture capital and accelerators 

Founders Factory Africa  

LaunchLab

Impact Amplifier

Tools for managing investor communication

Ivestory - File-sharing, documentation, team updates, etc.

Sherpany - A meeting toolbox with minute templates to schedule managers, voting systems, etc.

RingCentral - A video conferencing and virtual meeting platform

Tracking and measuring resources

CB Insights - For monitoring trends in startup funding

Mixpanel - Analytics and forecasting

KPIBees - A one-stop dashboard for tracking and analytics tools

Investor pipeline paperwork and legal requirements

  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Investor rights agreement
  • Equity holder/stockholder agreement
  • Company statutory reports
  • Nondisclosure agreement
  • Intellectual property agreement
  • Business insurance policy
  • Investment policy review framework

Case studies of successful investor pipeline 

Not sure where to begin? Get a sense of direction with these case studies:

MNT-Halan  

Egyptian fintech startup MNT-Halan had to pivot multiple times to click into the right gears in their funding campaign. The platform started as a ride-hailing and delivery app, then gradually pivoted to closely related offerings before investors finally gave them a nod. 

It took persistence, financial prudence, and successful testing and feedback incorporation itineraries to beat the learning curve and unlock the secret to successive rounds of funding. The company strategically broadened its offerings, adding wallets, bill payments, e-commerce with buy now, pay later (BNPL), and, crucially, micro and consumer loans. These were strategic moves that laid the foundation for a comprehensive fintech ecosystem.

Tasaheel Microfinance Company and Halan Consumer Finance, subsidiaries of MNT-Halan, utilised strategic securitisations to address some of the economic challenges at the time. It successfully securitised $140 million through collaborations with Commercial International Bank (CIB) and other regional financial institutions. This not only injected liquidity into the company but also showcased the quality and robustness of MNT-Halan's loan books.

Despite the early challenges, MNT-Halan secured a monumental victory of $400 million in a funding round, with a unicorn status weighing down on its trophy shelf.

Moove

Accessible vehicle financing has been one of the longest-standing impediments to growth in the auto sector. When Moove entered a niche that traditional lenders frowned on, it had the field to itself. Moove's remarkable 17x revenue growth following its Series A fundraise a year later sent shockwaves across the industry.

Moove knew it had to up the ante when taking on the global market. This required strategic planning and diversification of products to cater to multiple markets. Moove aced the challenges and secured $183.3 million across five funding rounds in 2022. It also diversified its pipeline, taking on debt financing, equity funding, and strategic partnerships. 

Take the plunge and build a lasting investor pipeline 

A reliable investment pipeline is a vehicle for navigating the highs and lows of the startup fundraising landscape. Lay a solid foundation with research. Create and continually optimise your structures - spreadsheet, pitch deck, communication strategy, etc. Learn to adapt and focus on building lasting relationships. 

A resilient investment pipeline can fuel your relentless belief in your startup's potential. 

Need hands-on pipeline guidance from startup funding experts? At FFA, we help early founders get their financing together. 

 

We’re eager to hear from you today.