Writing a Pitch

I recently had the opportunity to hear a VC’s thoughts on pitching. He covered exactly what you should include in a pitch and what you should definitely leave out. Let’s start with the affirmative:

Set the stage. Get the investor’s attention. Make sure he/she knows the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) right away.

Explain yourself in the first minute. The investor needs to know who you are and why you’re there within the first minute. Why are you worth the investor’s time and attention?

Answer the “So what?” question. Why does this pitch and your business matter in the long scheme of things? What need does it fill better than any product that has come before it?

10 slides/20 minutes/ 34 point font If you are using visual aids, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. The value should be in your words, and the visual should merely provide support. Make sure you know the investor’s expectations before you walk in the room. Do they want visual aids? Do they even have time for a 20 minute presentation, or are they expecting an elevator pitch?

Only have one spokesperson. In high school and college, teachers made every group member speak during a presentation. FORGET that rule when it comes to pitching. Multiple speakers are distracting.

Craft your market wisely. A lot of people will walk into a pitch and say, “we’re entering a $50 billion market.” This immediately causes lights to flash and sirens to go off in the investor’s head. You’ll be better off building up your market from the bottom up, i.e. “These are the number of consumers we can serve annually. Because there are x addressable people in a potential market of x, the number of serviceable consumers seems reasonable.”

Remain at the right level. You don’t want to get down and dirty in the details of your business. You also don’t want to be too holistic and explain the industry while neglecting your concept. You should arrive somewhere in the middle.

When receiving feedback, just listen and take notes. Investors find it annoying when people argue with them or try to provide additional details when they are trying to give feedback on the pitch. This is the time to stroke their expertise. Keep your mouth shut.

Monday, we’ll take a look at the lies to avoid in your pitch.

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