[4 minute read]

Investor Updates…what should you share?

When you hear the term “investor update”, what comes to mind? 

Numbers and dollar figures? Financial models and forecasts? Standard comments on the state of the economy?

While it’s important for companies to share this information with its shareholders (and just as important that the shareholders read it), it doesn’t mean it will always be a great experience. 

And just because the information is important, it doesn’t mean that it is all that the company should share. 

What else would you share with an investor? 

What else would the investors want to see? Why bother sharing anything other than the bare minimum? Surely the investors only care about the numbers…right? 

Wrong. 

In the start-up world especially, investors are becoming increasingly concerned with the broader vision of the company they are investing in. Investors are caring more about “impact”. 

What do you mean impact? Profit and loss, right? 

Not quite. 

Investors will often want to hear how their investment contributes to a better world – think environmental sustainability, fair labour, and social justice. 

While a return on investment will clearly always be a factor in investor satisfaction, it is not the sole consideration. 

If you are doing good things, then share it. 

One of our favourite examples of how to create meaningful shareholder communication has been that of Outland Denim and Rooy. 

Rooy is a cloud-based platform that allows organisations to accurately measure, manage and communicate their impact. It collects, aggregates and reports on both financial, and non-financial data. 

Outland Denim is a premium, sustainable denim label which provides stable, safe, and fair training and employment opportunities to people who have experienced exploitation or abuse. For the Australian brand, sustainability equally encompass social, environmental, and economic.

It has recently completed its crowd funding round, and through Cake, has on boarded hundreds of new shareholders to its cap table. 

Thanks to Rooy, Outland Denim has been able to provide its investors with comprehensive updates on key financial & non-financial outcomes the company creates for its stakeholders.

These include environmental metrics such as CO2 & Water Saved; employee metrics illustrating the Reduction in Vulnerability of Outland Denim employees in Cambodia; as well as conventional metrics regarding Customer Satisfaction, Sales Growth and Media Reach.

Rooy’s impact dashboard provides investors with this integrated view of Outland Denim’s performance at a glance.

Each month, through Cake, the Outland Denim investors will get access to the Rooy reports. This way, the hundreds of Outland Denim investors are informed on the ongoing mission of the company. This is especially important where the sustainable vision was a clear motivator to invest in the first place.

 

Outland Denim founding CEO, James Bartle, explains how critical this communication is: 

“When surveyed, an alignment with company values was by far the leading reason why our shareholders invested in Outland Denim, and so it is incredibly important for us to regularly keep them updated on company activity beyond just economic results. 

85% of our shareholders listed ‘Poverty alleviation, human trafficking activism, and social justice’ as reason why they invested in Outland Denim. 70.5% listed an alignment with our values of ‘ethical fashion and changing the industry’, and 70% listed ‘ethical sustainability’.” 

Don’t be a stranger – communicate frequently and openly 

An easy way to build investor confidence is to simply keep them in the loop

What many start-ups do not realise is that the investor is often keen to follow the journey, not just invest in it. 

This does not necessarily mean that they will want a seat in the boardroom – we get it, too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin a good baking session.

Instead, the investors appreciate being kept up to date. They will feel comfort in the fact that their investment is part of some bigger, more powerful mission.

ROOY founding CEO, Timothy O’Brien, has seen this first hand: 

“There is an increasing call from customers, staff and investor for increased transparency.  Organisations, now more than ever, are being asked to report on the  positive and negative impact of their product or service.  

Impact measurement allows you to verify the outcomes your seek to create and communicate these in real-time which is made possible through the ROOY platform. Those organising providing hyper-transparency of their operations have a distinct advantage by communicating openly.   ” 

Investors may also be more comfortable to reach into their pockets for your next round if they feel aligned with the ongoing mission. Don’t forget that current investors can be your greatest assets for any upcoming rounds. 

Keep them in the loop, and let them follow the journey. Don’t just become another number in their financials. 

Give them something to talk about

Investors care about the impact of businesses more than ever. 

And if you are doing cool and novel things, they want to know. 

A good way to decide what is worth sharing is to consider: 

  • Would this give your investors something interesting to talk about at dinner? 
  • Would it give them something to brag about?  
  • Are you taking a different approach, or doing something novel? 

For example, the Outland Denim crowd-funders would likely be happy to bring up the Rooy sustainability reports when talking about their recent investments.  Due to the quality and clarity of the information provided in the Rooy reports, they could even talk as if they are experts in the whole issue. 

This kind of information can really plant the seed for the most effective word-of-mouth marketing available – topical issues worth talking about. 

Transparency is key

What if your business doesn’t have anything ‘extra’ to brag about? What if you don’t think there is anything interesting to say?

It is still worth keeping your shareholders generally informed. As mentioned above, it’s free marketing. Spending the time to make a shareholder update meaningful, is always worthwhile. 

You want the investors on your team. You want to become a strong combined force.

By getting in the habit of providing meaningful investor updates, you are setting the conditions for that to happen. This doesn’t mean you should be throwing every bit of information you can find at investors (they will hit the big old delete button without hesitation).

Keep it interesting, and keep it concise. 

If you struggle to write an update, check out these resources, courtesy of Michael Batko, for a standard template.

At Cake, we love seeing amazing companies doing amazing things. Shareholders love the same thing. Keep them in the loop.