I’m preparing another team for their startup pitch to potential investors. Even the most seasoned startups understand that investors won’t be catching what you are pitching if you aren’t in control of yourself and your team.
Here are 10 tips for you to keep in mind.
- Your startup pitch is a dialogue, not a lecture. Your body language and posture, as well as the language of your pitch, are an invitation to a conversation. Your objective is for investors to want to continue the dialogue you just started with them.
- Your startup pitch is not all about you and your technical acumen. Yes, you may be the smartest person in the room. However, if the folks with the money can’t understand what you are saying, they will lose interest. Are you coachable? Then have a dialogue in a manner that everyone seated around the table or the room can understand and participate in.
- TMI (too much information) dilutes focus (and potential investment). Your product, platform or service may have exquisite scientific, engineering and technical features. Think about all the stuff your iPhone can do. All you want it to do is “work.” So do your investors. What are the minimum viable aspects of your startup? Let investors ask for more information (think Appendices) before you tsunami them with it in your pitch.
- Use pitch deck minimalism. Your startup pitch deck should be legible, uncluttered, easy to read, and use color to break up white space. If your pitch deck is animated, and intricate, your investors eyes may not be able to follow all the stuff you’ve packed in. Keep it simple. Again, let them ask for more information (think extra slides).
- Flesh out your business plan, you may need it. Don’t forget about the whole enchilada business plan you created. While brief proformas and minimalist presentations are sound pitch strategies, your investors will conduct due diligence. Guess what it’s based on? Your business plan and comparables in the space. Have that information ready to go.
- Anticipate the questions investors will ask. A dialogue isn’t one-sided, is it? If you don’t understand the numbers, and the investor’s “What’s in it for Me” mindset, do your homework. Talk with investor resources before you pitch. Understand their language, manner, attitude, and obviously, how the numbers need to work.
- You can’t anticipate their questions if you don’t know much about your investors. Find out everything you can about investors before you meet them. Start with social media, their LinkedIn profile, company website information, portfolio description, and involvement in professional and civic initiatives. You get the picture. Investors are people, too.
- Don’t wait until right before you pitch to start networking. If you are pitching this week, don’t wait until now to ask for a LinkedIn relationship and think that you are networking. Your networking activities are constant and ongoing. What types of investor meet ups do you and your startup team attend? Just hanging around with startups like you? Diversify!
- Relax and pace yourself. Delivering a startup pitch is exhausting. By the end of your pitch, you are drained. Reserve your strength because, guess what? After your pitch is completed, there’s Q&A!
- Avoid getting on the defensive. This is the toughest part of a startup pitch for technical and engineering experts. They are used to always having the right answer. Remember, this is a dialogue and you must demonstrate that you are coachable and therefore, fundable. I’ve seen far too many technical startups blow it during Q&A because of this Achilles heel.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups.