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Pitching perfection to investors: A 10-step guide

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs looking to raise funding must realise that a great business case alone is definitely not enough to guarantee a favorable outcome. Not preparing adequately for a presentation to an angel investor or a venture capital fund is a sure-fire way of guaranteeing failure.

The power of a strong, well polished pitch to funders cannot be underestimated and it warrants considerable time and effort to make sure that you hit the mark first off. Here are some tips on what funders might expect from entrepreneurs hoping to make a good impression.

1. Perfect your micro pitch
This is your 90-second introduction, or “elevator pitch”. It should be sharp, tailored and deliver your most important information and key messages. You must cut to the essence of the market need, your solution, its difference to the competition and what kind of support or funding you’re looking for.

2. Tailor your pitch to your audience
It is critical that you tailor your pitch according to who you’re pitching to, what their investment mandate is and what type of support they provide — is it a VC fund, angel investor or an incubator? Know what they’ve invested in previously and what they’re interested in.

3. Stick to your allocated time
It is not uncommon to be one of many startups pitching on the same day. If you’re unable to communicate the crux of your solution and why it’s a good investment within your allocated time, you may be cut short and your proposal overlooked.

4. Practice your pitch
A tight, well-presented pitch leaves a great impression about both yourself and your solution. You want your presentation to flow logically and look professional. Practice by presenting to people not familiar with your industry. If they are left with a clear understanding, it is likely the same will apply with potential investors.

5. Anticipate questions and expect interruptions
Prepare for interruptions and questions, try not get thrown off if your flow is interrupted. The upside is that it shows your audience is listening and engaged. In fact, encourage questions.

6. Avoid making sweeping assumptions
Back up your claims and projections with hard facts. While the potential funders may not be experts in your industry, they will be informed enough by the literally hundreds of other business plans flowing across their desks. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest and say so. Rather provide feedback and research at a later stage than rely on guesswork.

7. Be trustworthy
As early-stage investing is a high-risk business, potential funders look for credible and honest entrepreneurs to back. Establish your credentials — whether in the form of industry-specific experience, other business experience, qualifications, endorsements, or awards.

8. Have a realistic development plan
Whilst driven entrepreneurs with a clear vision are appealing, they need to be backed up with an actionable plan as to how they intend to grow their business. Dazzle your audience with an understanding of your solution, the market, how much money you require and what the funding will enable you to do. The development plan must cover all areas of your business.

9. Keep your primary presentation to 10 slides
Less is more, although it is advisable to have additional slides that drill into more detail, should that be requested during your presentation. Nothing looks more professional than a fully prepared presenter. Stick to the 10-slide rule for your primary presentation, which should cover:

  • Your micro pitch
  • The market need
  • Your product or solution
  • The IP or technology underlying the solution
  • The market size
  • Your competition
  • How you intend generating revenue
  • Your team — including biographical detail on the founders and key players
  • The financials, projections & milestones
  • The deal — what you require

10. The 10:20:30 principle
Renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Guy Kawasaki expounds the practice of 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30pt font size as minimum. Using visuals and graphics rather than reams of text to illustrate your point will retain your audience’s attention.

  • Alex Smith

    Hi Alexandra,

    Thank you very much, nice article – Alex Smith

  • http://twitter.com/david_moeller david_moeller

    Alexandra-
    You do a great job of describing the mechanics of how an investor should be pitched.  What I’ve found from my experiences is that the mechanics can be perfect, but still not enough.  There are two major pitfalls I’ve seen: (i) Providing too much information and going too deep (ii) Not understanding the nuances of what a particular investor wants to see.

    Ultimately, a presentation that stays high level allows you to quickly dive into the weeds if you need, but the opposite is not true.  And the importance of understanding the person on the other side of the table cannot be overstated.  Does the person you are meeting with commonly write checks to pre-revenue companies?  If so, in what type of companies has he or she invested in the past?  How does your opportunity look similar or different?  

    -David

  • http://twitter.com/david_moeller david_moeller

    Alexandra-
    You do a great job of describing the mechanics of how an investor should be pitched.  What I’ve found from my experiences is that the mechanics can be perfect, but still not enough.  There are two major pitfalls I’ve seen: (i) Providing too much information and going too deep (ii) Not understanding the nuances of what a particular investor wants to see.

    Ultimately, a presentation that stays high level allows you to quickly dive into the weeds if you need, but the opposite is not true.  And the importance of understanding the person on the other side of the table cannot be overstated.  Does the person you are meeting with commonly write checks to pre-revenue companies?  If so, in what type of companies has he or she invested in the past?  How does your opportunity look similar or different?  

    -David