John Bercow shares his tips on what ‘would help’ when pitching to investors

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John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons, will soon be trying his hand as a venture capitalist as he prepares to take part in the business reality show ‘Unicorn Hunters’. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, he shared what he will be looking for when being pitched to for investment.

Firstly, Mr Bercow stressed the benefits of pitching an original product, rather than a variation on an existing one.

He said: “I think it’s a combination of the product and the person. I’m looking to see whether there is an originality about the product. Is it new?

“It doesn’t automatically rule it out if there are other examples of the product if this version might be stronger.

“But it would help if it’s a genuine innovation, a new product that will bring something new to the market.”

He also said that products which are not brand new would be subject to more scrutiny from potential investors.

“If not, I want to probe very carefully. Why do you expect to get any subscription from investors? Given that there is an existing market and products,” Mr Bercow said.

“I would be posing the question, what sort of a market is there? Have you made a guesstimate as to the number of prospective purchasers?

“How many people are likely to be interested? Is there a substantial market for it, which might encourage investment?

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“Because there’s a huge amount of money (to be invested) and people aren’t going to invest just because they like the person or think it’s a nice product.

“If it’s going to sell three copies, that’s not going to do any good,” he added.

In a potentially competitive market, Mr Bercow emphasised the need to find out about one’s rivals before making a pitch.

Mr Bercow said: “What is the competition? Have you scouted? Have you asked the question as to whether there are others either within your own country or internationally?

“What market research have you done to establish whether there are other competitors? Who either might get there before you or might be really serious and heavyweight competitors?”

As well as having a quality product, Mr Bercow said that the person is just as important when considering whether to invest in a company.

“I think inevitably you are also looking at the person. You’re looking to form an assessment about that person. Do they sound credible? Have they done a bit of research?” He said.

“Is there a sense that the individual concerned has the get up and go and has thought it all through?

“What is the realistic prospect of substantial financing? And have they made efforts through friends and family to raise funds already? Or are they coming at it completely cold?”

Mr Bercow explained: “People who feel that they have a credible proposition may have been prepared to put some resources, some collateral behind their own product and attract interest from family members, or friends.”

John Bercow was speaking to Express.co.uk ahead of his upcoming appearance on season two of the business reality show ‘Unicorn Hunters’.

The show consists of contestants pitching their companies to a panel of experts who then choose whether to invest. In a twist, the public at home have the opportunity to invest as well, although it’s important to be aware that capital is at risk when investing.

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