How to pitch your startup is often the starting point for the startups of today. They go to Google and search for the definitive guide to fund-raising, but in principle, there isn’t one. However, there are tactics one can follow to make their idea more attractive for investors.
Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon-Valley based author, speaker, entrepreneur, and evangelist, says that people are going to make an instant decision about your pitch. “They’re not going to want to see your entire background, they’re not going to want to get to know you, they don’t want to be your friend,’’ he says. His recommendation is to be interesting and be quick about it.
Below we’re going to enlist a collection of 8 important tactics that you can follow to make your pitch your startup in a better way to possible investors.
1. Research your audience
To have a great pitch, you need to understand who you’re talking to. Today there are tools like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and other where you can research your audience and understand more about them. This means that you can find points of interest to talk about, including facts about who their favorite football team or the last time they visited New York. But make sure to find out about stuff that is relevant.
2. Stay focused
When you achieve the meeting of having the chance to pitch your startup to investors, remember that you won’t have an hour or half an hour. Available time might be even less than that. Make sure to prepare upfront about what your investors might want to hear. Do they want to know more about the technology or the market? Or about competitors? Sometimes you might not know that, but be prepared. Sometimes they will ask directly, and you make sure to answer what they’re looking for.
3. Your pitch, your story
It’s not rare that start-ups go to a pitch meeting and do their story in a geeky / tech-talk way. Try to avoid that and try to avoid as much of patent-pending, scalable product or service, disruption, etc. You’ll sound like everyone else. You want to be different and convince the investors to invest in your product/idea. You can achieve that by telling them a story. Every startup should have a story that articulates the motivation behind the business and the problem it’s trying to solve. VC’s are not bankers and they want to do business with people who believe in what they’re doing.
4. The 10/20/30 Rule
There are various pitch decks recommended by various resources on the internet. One of the most recommended ones is the 10/20/30 model, created by Guy Kawasaki. The optimal number of slides is 10, the talk should be 20 minutes long and the font size should be 30 points. An additional tip by Kawasaki is related to the background of the slides. “Dark says seriousness. Dark says gravitas. Dark says I’m not (so dumb) that all I did was boot up PowerPoint, got a white open new document, inserted a new text box, and started typing,” Kawasaki says. “Black is the new black.”
5. One person does the talking
The CEO of the company should be the one that does the talking and he should be the person that knows how to present the market, the technology, the product, the financials and the team. Don’t try and pitch your startup with everyone talking various pieces of the pitch deck. It’s difficult, it doesn’t work and you’re gonna lose the attention of your audience.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
The more you practice your pitch the better you become. A saying that applies here is that you need to practice it so much that you’re completely smooth with it. Even when you’re woken up in the middle of the night, you should be able to pitch it smoothly.
7. Don’t forget the product
Everything can be fine about your pitch and story and team, but don’t forget to show a demo of your product. You can’t convince investors to write you a check if you can’t show what you actually have built with your team. Make sure to dedicate a spot in your pitch deck to present your product and demo it to the investors.
8. Take notes and Follow-up
This is one of the most common cases. There is a great number of people that don’t follow-up and there’s always the case when the investors are providing feedback and no notes are taken. If you’re asked about some information that you can’t provide at the moment, take notes and provide follow-up.
There’s nothing more unconvincing to an investor than a founder that doesn’t bother to listen and take notes while he’s asking some important business questions that might lead to a check and more than that. Remember that if you say you’re going to send some follow-up information, do that the moment you get back to the office or garage where your startup is. Don’t wait for next week to provide that follow-up informaiton. As the saying goes, keep up the momentum.