When it comes to raising investment, are pitching events a waste of time or a worthwhile exercise?

Serial entrepreneur David Levine, principal at Manchester Angels, sparked a lively debate on LinkedIn with Jessica Jackson, investment manager at Praetura Ventures, when he claimed founders never secured investment that way.

In a no-holds-barred blog Levine claimed: “Pitching events are one of the biggest wastes of time for founders looking for investment.

“Almost no investor gets deal flow from a pitch event.

“Want to get better at pitching in public? Brilliant. Want to get some feedback? Fine (although feedback likely to be muted in public). Want to meet some new people? Wonderful.

“But you will almost never meet the investor who will invest simply because you pitched at an event.

“Get your head down, research the right investors for you and reach out in meaningful way.

“As usual exceptions and outliers on a postcard please.”

However Jackson, who will head up Praetura Ventures’  new PraeSeed programme for early stage businesses in the North, hit back in a strongly-worded LinkedIn blog of her own.

Praetura launches pre-seed investment programme

She wrote: “Pitching events are incredibly useful for the early stage ecosystem (David and I are frequent attendees of them, so if we found them a waste of time… why would we be there?

“Not all founders have the luxury of a well-developed network to immediately pick up the phone and start discussions with funders when they’re ready to raise investment.

“I do agree with David that pitching might not immediately lead to a comically large cheque and a handshake at the end, but it helps to get conversations going. Investment and quick wins aren’t often in the same sentence.

“Not all founders are in the right headspace to consider what being ready for investment actually involves and means! Events are a great way to come and see what to do, and not to do.

“And not all founders are opposed to small tickets. Small tickets ARE meaningful. Angel investors come from all walks of life, and its truly a wonderful thing that many more are coming onto the investment scene, many of them women, with smaller tickets that can still make a massive impact as a syndicate, and to a founder raising their first round.”

Jackson is a also a non-executive director at Liverpool-based energy expert Heatio and their CCO Thomas Farquhar likened pitching events to ‘free training and coaching’ when it comes to perfecting your pitch.

“It’s about picking the right ones if you are looking for investment,” he said.  “Surely it’s better when you are raising to spend time in a room full of people who may invest, or may lead you to someone who invests, than going to some of these ego massaging networking events, which are 100 per cent speculative, unless you are going for the free food.”

Helen Oldham is the founder of Fund Her North and co-founder of Lifted Ventures, which aims to increase the flow of capital to early stage female founders outside of London.

She said: “Women investors often invest with small tickets, tickets which often catalyse other larger tickets. And to pinch a Praetura phrase,  investment is often more than money. I had a founder chase me yesterday for my small ticket so they obviously saw the value in my ticket closing their round.”

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