A pitch presentation to an investor can be a nerve-wracking experience for even the most seasoned of startup founders. Your investor deck design is ready, you know your startup inside out…But how do you smash your actual startup pitch and make your presentation stand out from the crowd?
We’ve brought together 25 tips from experts to help you make sure your investor pitch stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Let’s jump in.
1.There’s no way to compress an hour of material into a minute + speak with the same passion. Click To Tweet
“You have your one-minute version, your 10-minute version, your hour-long version. Some people think this means having the same story edited to different lengths, but you can’t do that. It’s impossible. There’s no way to compress an hour of material into a minute and still speak with the same passion. You have to have a new approach for each one of those situations.”
– “Take Your Fundraising Pitch from Mediocre to Memorable with These Storytelling Tips” – Oren Jacob, Co-founder and CEO of ToyTalk
2.Investors are bored with spreadsheets and numbers. So, tell your story and tell it right. Click To Tweet
“Storytelling is a scientifically-proven way to capture a listener’s attention and hold it. Besides, it makes your pitch unforgettable.
Investors are bored with spreadsheets, valuations and numbers. If they want that information, they can get it. What you can offer that no term sheet can convey is the story and pathos behind your startup. Everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven investor.
So, tell your story and tell it right. You’re bound to gain attention, and the funding will follow.”
– “13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down” – Neil Patel, Entrepreneur, investor & influencer.
3.Have reasons why your product is better than the competition, but never underestimate. Click To Tweet
“Speak about your competitors honestly and in detail
Have one or more reasons why your product is better than the competition, but never underestimate them.
Study their businesses inside out and clearly articulate (both visually and audibly) how you position against them. List their weaknesses and their strengths and, if appropriate, talk about your plan to turn your weaknesses into strengths against them.
You want to be able to articulate why an incumbent has a huge market share and convincingly convey why you feel you have a shot at winning over their customers.”
– “8 tips for giving the perfect investor pitch (from someone who’s raised $75M)” – Mitchell Harper, Co-founder at BigCommerce
4.Nobody wants someone who is too desperate or too uninterested. Strike a balance. Click To Tweet
“Again, treat this like you are on a date, or trying to convince someone to go out with you. Don’t be too aggressive or too aloof. Nobody wants someone who is too desperate or too uninterested. Strike a balance. If you don’t appear to be interested in what an investor has to offer, why would they want to give you money? Finding this balance takes practice of course, so if possible, give your earlier pitches to less distinguished backers whose investment isn’t crucial. Try to work your way up slowly to more esteemed, powerful investors so you have time to improve and make mistakes with your pitch.”
– “4 Simple Pitch Tips that Will Attract Investors to Your Startup” – John Boitnott, Journalist and digital consultant
5.Who you pitch to is nearly as important as what you pitch. Click To Tweet
“Who you pitch to is nearly as important as what you pitch. You should know why this specific investor would be a good partner for your company. Otherwise, investors might see a red flag — either that you will take money from anyone, or you are trying to create a bidding war — neither is a good situation on the investor’s end. Getting an investment from the wrong person can be a decision you’ll later regret, as not every investor offers equal value.”
– “5 Practical Tips for Perfecting Your Startup Pitch” – Erica Swallow, Owner of Southern Swallow Productions
6.The way you respond to questions is sometimes more important than the answer itself. Click To Tweet
“Be prepared to answer questions. If you’re asked a question, try to provide at least a brief answer on the spot even if you have a slide that specifically addresses the issue later on. It’s also OK to not have an answer or “the right” answer, because the way you respond to questions is sometimes more important than the answer itself (it demonstrates how you deal with situations that may involve uncertainty or pressure).”
– “7 tips for nailing a startup pitch to a boardroom full of VCs“ – Hila Shitrit Nissim, VP of marketing for private equity investment firm Viola Group.
7.Investors are generally great readers of people + they can tell if you're bullshitting. Click To Tweet
“Be authentic. Great investors are generally great readers of people and they can tell if you are bullshitting.”
– “What not to do when pitching your tech startup to a VC: The dos and don’ts of pitching to a VC fund” – Ari Newman, Partner at TechStars
8.Often people begin by saying what their solution is. Talk more about the problem. Click To Tweet
“A lot of the time people begin by saying what their solution is. But I recommend that you talk more about what the problem is. This helps you establish emotional context with the person listening”.
– “Dave McClure’s 10 tips for the perfect investment pitch” – Dave McClure, Entrepreneur, angel investor and founder at 500 Startups
9.Not everyone in is an expert in this field – so spend some time explaining the context. Click To Tweet
“You may know your domain very well, but not everyone in the audience is an expert in this field – so spend some time explaining the context in which you are operating. It could be the size of the e-commerce market for travel, or augmented reality apps for medicine, or a wildlife mapping platform – explain the scope of the activity, target audience, transactional components, and user needs. At the same time, don’t get too carried away with describing the context – you should describe just enough to frame why this is important for your company.”
– “Startup Pitches: Ten Tips for Success” – Madanmohan Rao, Research Director at YourStory
10.Don’t end with a generic 'Q&A' slide. End with your most important slide. Click To Tweet
“Don’t end with a generic “Q&A” slide. End with your most important slide, something that you want on screen while you’re answering questions that will linger in investors minds long after the meeting’s over.”
– “Dos and Don’ts of the Startup Pitch: Expert Advice from 5 Famous Investors” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist
11.Investors like to see ideas that are backed by real dollar figures. Click To Tweet
“Along with a compelling story and presentation, talking comfortably about your sales numbers and projections is a very important part of your pitch. Without numbers to back them up, whether a person likes a product concept or not is fairly anecdotal. Investors like to see ideas that are backed by real dollar figures.
Remember to be realistic with your sales predictions. If they’re not believable, then you won’t be, either. (Read this blog post to learn more about how to accurately predict your future sales.)”
– “How to Deliver the Perfect Business Pitch: 8 Tips Inspired by ‘Shark Tank'” – Lindsay Kolowich, Marketing at Hubspot
12.The key to a successful hook is to break the norm. Click To Tweet
“Hook your audience of venture capitalists or angel investors.
There’s a reason clickbait articles get so many clicks, and it’s not rocket science – it’s a hook. Whether you’re writing an article for Buzzfeed or you’re up on stage delivering your pitch, you have one chance and one chance only to grab your audience’s attention, and you do so with a catchy, juicy, irresistible hook.
The key to a successful hook is to break the norm. By interrupting your audience’s everyday thought patterns and challenging their assumptions of what a pitch might be, you’ll be able to not only hook their attention, but keep them hanging on your every last word.”
– “3 Tips for Nailing Your Startup Pitch and Getting Funded“ – Matt Hunckler, Verge
13.Angel investors invest first in the entrepreneur not in the business plan. Click To Tweet
“Prepare yourself, not just your idea. Angel investors invest first in the entrepreneur not in the business plan. It’s important that the investor and entrepreneur can get along. They will want to see that you are fast, thoughtful and efficient, and can sustain the project through its conception and growth.”
– “7 Tips For Pitching Your Entrepreneurial Idea, Whether To Angels Or Sharks” – Matt Symonds, Co-Founder at Fortuna Admissions
14.You wake up every morning excited, communicate that passion to investors. Click To Tweet
If you’re starting or expanding your business, you probably wake up every morning excited to take on the day. Communicate that passion to potential investors. What is the big potential of your business? Describe how you’ll shake up the industry and do things differently. What’s your “special sauce.”
Communicate a dynamic action plan for capital deployment. Investors and banks refer to this as the “use of funds.” Don’t use dry language. This should be the most exciting part of your pitch. What awesome goals will an infusion of investment funds help you achieve? How will this capital accelerate your company’s growth and expand its capacity?”
– “7 Tips for an Investment Pitch That Excites and Inspires” – Miles Jennings, Founder and CEO of Recruiter.com
15.If you’re seeking large investment, investors will want to know your exit strategy. Click To Tweet
“If you’re seeking large sums of investment capital (over $1M), most investors will want to know what your exit strategy is. Are you planning on getting acquired, going public (very few companies actually do), or something else? Show you’ve done some due diligence on this exit strategy, including the companies you’re targeting, and why it would make sense 3, 5, or 10 years down the road.”
– “How to Pitch to Investors in 10 Minutes and Get Funded” – Caroline Cummings, Tech entrepreneur, angel investor and Venture Catalyst for Oregon Rain
16.Be brief. You need to communicate with stunning efficiency. Click To Tweet
“Be brief. You need to communicate with stunning efficiency. Typical presentations are 12 to 15 slides. Your prepared comments should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes to deliver. In some cases, you may have as few as five minutes to present. Leave the details to the Q&A. When someone asks a question of you, they want more details.”
– “9 Ways to Perfect Your Pitch and Investor Presentation” – Geri Stengel, Founder and President of Ventureneer
17.This product will market itself” (no, it won’t). Click To Tweet
“Avoid cliches. Phrases to avoid:
“All we need is 1% of the market” (unlikely you will get that)
“We will get huge viral usage” (unless you show me early traction, that will be difficult to believe)
“This product will market itself” (no, it won’t)
“Google will want to buy us” (maybe, but not likely)
“Our projection numbers are conservative” (just once I would like to hear an entrepreneur say, “Our projections are wildly optimistic”).”
– “28 Mistakes Startups Make When Pitching To Investors” – Richard Harroch, Managing Director and Global Head of M&A for VantagePoint Capital Partners
18.A certain degree of pre-talk nerves is good and even veteran presenters have them Click To Tweet
“Even though putting together a punchy, well designed, well thought-out presentation can give you a lot of confidence, it still takes courage to stand up and talk in front of an audience.
A certain degree of pre-talk nerves is good and even veteran presenters have them. However, you don’t want your nerves to detract from the presentation.
It’s all about practicing, building up experience and making yourself feel more comfortable:
1. Practice. Dedicating time before the presentation to go through the presentation at least five or six times. This will do wonders for your confidence. Talk out loud not just inside your mind. This will help with retaining the information
2. Experience. Seek out other opportunities to speak that are less important for practice. For example, business clubs or local chamber of commerce. Not only will you feel better the more times you present, it’s also a great way to get awareness of your business in the local environment.
3. Engage the audience. Asking questions can reduce isolation between you and the audience and also help you relax as it feels more intimate.”
– “How to showcase your business and successfully pitch your idea to investors – tips from a presentation expert” – Spencer Waldron, presentation expert and UK Country Manager at Prezi
19.When Steve Jobs launched the iPod he talked about '1,000 songs in your pocket.' Click To Tweet
“Make the abstract concrete. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod he talked about “1,000 songs in your pocket”. That was concrete. No MB, no Hz, no bit rates, no hard drives. You can do the same – even with the most obscure hedge fund strategy.”
– “Make Your Investment Pitch More Memorable – Six Simple Tips” – Benjamin Ball Associates
20.Jargon is unlikely to impress the real experts. Click To Tweet
“Ditch the jargon.
It can be tempting to add layers of technical speak in an attempt to convince others of your expert credentials. This is unlikely to impress the real experts, and merely presents them with an opportunity to switch off.
Keep the language simple, and don’t make the assumption that anyone in your audience has any specialist knowledge.”
– “5 tips to successfully pitch new ideas to angel investors” – David Gammon, Real Business
21.Simplify your message to express benefits, not features. Click To Tweet
“Simplify your message to express benefits, not features.
Customers buy a product because it solves a need, not because of a rich feature set. Discuss the benefits of your product and the burning pain point it addresses.”
– “10 tips for pitching angel investors” – Yi-Jian Ngo, Founder and Managing Director at Alliance of Angels
22.Time is going to be low so don’t waffle. Click To Tweet
“Ensure your deck is faultless. That old Digital Marketing saying ‘content is king’ is rather relevant here. Your deck must be engaging and interesting whilst being based on an airtight business plan with in-depth detail surrounding your finances and projections. Structure your deck like your business plan whilst highlighting the problem you wish to solve, your route to market, your finances, competition and even a bit about your team too.
Time is going to be low so don’t waffle or bore people with lots of text, visual aids such as charts and images are more likely to hold the audience’s attention. Be prepared for scrutiny, you should anticipate the difficult questions and be able to explain the answers in a clear and concise way. Sometimes your reaction to scrutiny can win or lose you the investment.”
– “Killer Tips for Nailing Your Next Start-Up Investment Pitch“ – Ashley Salek, Account Director at Netleadz
23.The elevator pitch is an essential tool in the fundraising entrepreneur’s toolbox. Click To Tweet
“Nail your elevator pitch. It may be a cliché, but the elevator pitch is an essential tool in the fundraising entrepreneur’s toolbox. You have to test it, perfect it and practice it until you know it back to front and inside out. You may well need it at a moment’s notice, after all.”
– “5 Top Tips for Getting Angel Investment” – Adam Gale, Associate Web Editor at Management Today
24.Mondays are not the best day to pitch. Click To Tweet
“Mondays are not the best day to pitch.
What’s wrong with Mondays? It’s that day of the week, when partners at most VC companies hold morning meetings to go through the potential deals and decide on investments. If you pitch on Monday afternoon, you will spend the rest of the week dying to know whether the company is interested in your offer or not. Also, if your pitch may get lost in the bundle of other ideas spoken during the week and receive less attention that it would have if delivered closer to Friday.”
– “Tips for Producing the Best Investor Pitch” – Dianna Labrien, Writer and Blogger
25.The investor needs to know who is involved from the very beginning of the pitch. Click To Tweet
“Name drop: If possible, name drop brands and people that are involved with your company-customers, partners, and members of the team. The investor needs to know who is involved from the very beginning of the pitch. This increases your credibility quickly and early on. If you do decide to name drop, warn each of the people that an investor may be contacting them in the near future. And of course, don’t make up names.”
– “10 Tips to an Effective Investor Pitch” – Allison Way, Writer and Videographer for Think Big Partners and bizperc
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