The Top 10 List for Pitching to Investors

By February 13, 2017Blogs

A few months ago, I attended a panel discussion involving pitching to investors. I had the pleasure of hearing from four panelists: Jeff Friedman (Tech Coast Angels), Larry Fromm (Achates Power), Diane West (2Connect Presentation Training), and Grace Chui-Miller (Correlation Ventures). They all dropped some informative nuggets of wisdom when it comes to pitching. If you’re an entrepreneur and are preparing for your first pitch (or millionth), take these 10 tips to heart!

  1. Get the audience’s attention within the first minute (Larry says you have one minute to grab investors’ attention before they tune out. Facebook photos won’t scroll through themselves after all. Larry also says that if you have an hour for the pitch, do it in 20 minutes, leaving the rest of the time for Q&A.)
  2. Tell the audience a story (Diane understands that investors need data to make an informed decision about your company, but she implores people who are pitching to couch that data in stories. Kids like stories. Adults do, too.)
  3. Know your audience (According to Diane, the story that the pitch audience wants to hear will vary. The technology-minded will want to hear a technology story. The business-minded? Surprise – a business story. Find out beforehand who will be in the audience to tailor the story to the audience.)
  4. Be honest about challenges (A pet peeve of Jeff is presenters that say that they have no problems. There are always issues to overcome. Be honest about them. The investors, if they choose to take you on, may be able to help.)
  5. Focus on your strengths, not your competitors’ weaknesses (Larry is immediately turned off by pitch presenters who disparage the competition. Chances are that the pitch audience knows your competitors and all their warts. Focus on the benefits of your product and how it addresses the problem you’re solving.)
  6. Don’t claim that you have no competitors (When she hears a pitch presenter say that there is no competition, Grace thinks either that the pitch presenter didn’t do his homework or is lying to make his product seem more novel. Acknowledge the competition. It makes you seem more knowledgeable of the market.)
  7. Don’t include financial models with dramatic increases (If you’re a pitch presenter, do you have a slide in your deck that resembles a hockey stick, rising uniformly over a 10 year period then leveling off? Ditch that slide. Grace believes that 2-3 year financial projections are the best a pitch presenter can reasonably estimate. 10 years? 15 years? No way.)
  8. Always have backup slides with more detailed information on hand (In Jeff’s group at Tech Coast Angels, the pitch audience is often mixed. If a scientist has a technology-related question, have slides that address his question available. Don’t present those slides unless asked, especially if the majority of the audience is not science or technology savvy.)
  9. Be confident, not arrogant (Diane’s view is that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The line consists of listening. Confidence is quiet. Arrogance is loud. Listen to learn the audience’s needs. Be receptive to feedback.)
  10. Don’t try to get married on the first date (Larry is adamant that the purpose of a pitch is to start a conversation, not end it. Investors don’t typically write a check at the end of a pitch. The goal of the pitch is to get the pitch presenter to the next phase of the investors’ selection process. Hopefully, closing the deal will come soon enough!)

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Robert says:

    Thank you for the tips. I am interested in starting an investment group. I want this to be the starting point of a new direction for my contemporaries.


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