Feature: Pitching a restaurant concept to investors

Posted under Interviews & Features.
by Patrick Ryan | Published 3 years ago

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If you had the chance to present your restaurant concept to a panel of investors, what would they most want to know? Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, founder of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum, finds out.

Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, Managing Director, Middle East, Bench EventsOne of the highlights of the upcoming Global Restaurant Investment Forum, being held at Palazzo Versace Dubai from 12-14 March, 2018, is the annual GRIF Deal Den – a platform that enables budding restaurateurs and operators alike to pitch their F&B concepts to investors, live. In front of some 300 delegates, many of whom are investors, we give these entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their concept to a panel of judges and outline the investment they are seeking. Our judges give immediate feedback, evaluating the attractiveness of the concept. It’s a nail-biting pitch for our entrepreneurs, but a highly sought-after chance to go directly to the people that can bring these concepts to life.


But what is it that these investors seek in a new concept? After all, they receive presentation after presentation, so what makes a concept stand out in the ever-competitive F&B landscape? I sat down with two of our judges to find out.

Already involved with the GRIF Deal Den for 2018 is Paul Campbell, Founder of Hill Capital Partners LLP and an investor in renowned brands including Hawksmoor, Vinoteca, Hickory’s, Tortilla, Halycon Hotels, The Alchemist and Gusto. When asked what sort of F&B opportunities he would love someone to bring to Hill Capital Partners, Campbell says he’s seeking “supremely talented and ambitious people who are looking to bring a fresh and exciting twist to a traditional format”.

Campbell says the key skills needed by individuals seeking to break into the tough world of F&B business are “intelligence, energy and determination”.

He recalls: “One of my lawyers quit his corporate job and pitched a new restaurant idea that had been fully researched and well thought through. The fact he quit his lucrative career told me he had the guts and determination to succeed.”

However, Campbell warns that the biggest mistake people without knowledge of the industry make is “spending far too much money on the first restaurant”. The worst pitches, he says, are those focused around “crazy, niche cuisines with limited customer appeal”.

Also judging the GRIF Deal Den is Martin Sherwood, Partner, Enterprise Investment Partners, a serial investor with many years’ experience of small company fundraising, specialising in hospitality and leisure.

Sherwood advises entrepreneurs to develop concepts which are “tried and tested, scalable, and realistic”, and to present clear, simple slides that explain the product and most importantly, address the value of the concept.

“How much investment are you seeking for what % of the business, i.e. what’s the valuation?  Many presentations leave out this vital info,” says Sherwood.

Disastrous pitches, he continues, are “unclear, over-complicated and over-valued”, while common mistakes include “a lack of time commitment, lack of financial commitment, concepts which don’t travel and not acting fast enough when things go wrong”.

Sherwood says the most impressive F&B pitches he’s ever received include “beautifully clear, gorgeous photography, compelling concept, ability to convey the intended customer experience, realistic roll out plan and valuation”.

As for future business partners, Sherwood is most impressed by “people who have been successful before and have got track record, or a team that comprises both grey hairs and experience with youth, passion and innovation”.


Jennifer Pettinger-Haines is managing director, Middle East, for Bench Events, organisers of The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF), the annual meeting place for the international restaurant investment community. Visit: www.restaurant-invest.com

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