Your pitch is what stands between your business idea getting off the ground or being banished into oblivion. Hence, it matters and what’s more, it matters the most.
Veterans of the industry have often described the process of the pitch as ‘pretty much like online dating’, where the only thing that matters at first is that you are either hot or not. If you are lucky, then eventually you will find your soulmate in one another.
With that thought in perspective, here are my top ten tips to help get you through your meetings with potential investors:
- Invest time and effort in your pitch deck
The pitch deck is typically a 10-15 slide PowerPoint presentation that outlines your company, the idea, expertise, strategy etc. The deck must articulate your story, one that holds the attention of your potential investors.
Make your pitch deck visual, snappy and uncluttered. Use plenty of graphs and interesting pictures but avoid outdated information and too much jargon.
There are several pitch decks available online from companies like Google, Airbnb, Facebook and more. Feel free to refer to them and borrow ideas for your own presentation.
Don’t forget to have a DropBox link ready to send it out and have a little footer on each slide that says ‘Confidential’ or ‘Copyright’ with the name of your company.
- Understand who you are pitching to
Luckily, start-ups today have access to these amazing platforms like Google and LinkedIn which allow you to research the people you will be meeting.
Make time for it you will probably unearth some common ground which will give you that extra bit of leverage. It could be your university, a former employer or just a common interest.
Finding something that makes you more relatable is definitely an added brownie point.
- Timing is Everything
You will usually be told how much time you have for your pitch; try to finish at least two to three minutes before that.
Either way, never speak for more than twenty minutes. This way, you have a chance of keeping a wider field for questions, comments, and discussions.
Ensure that you explain the important stuff first instead of leading them on and saying it when they are already glancing at their watches.
In short, the less amount of time your pitch takes, the better.
- It’s all in the numbers
For obvious reasons, investors are most interested in how they are going to get the return on their investment. Explain your revenue model to them in a crisp and concise manner, leaving no loose ends.
What they really want to know is how your company will make them rich and you need to find the best way to tell them that.
- Be precise
Don’t spin a yarn. Keep your story compelling enough to generate interest but explain with military precision what the idea really is, who the target audience really is and your strategy to turn your idea into a revenue stream.
A laser-focused approach will show that you are confident about your own idea and will also leave little room for doubt in the mind of your audience.
An added advantage of being on-point is that you will hold their attention longer.
- Be wildly enthusiastic
Remember, it’s your idea, your company, and your baby. Investors what to see a burning passion in entrepreneurs and that is something you just can’t fake.
You must crawl out of your comfort zone but perhaps only about 50% more than what you are used to so that you don’t sound unnatural.
Your energy and enthusiasm will only enhance your insight and your idea’s integrity and pragmatism.
- Point them to the exit
Have your exit strategy clearly outlined – it could be an IPO, venture capital, private offering or anything else that you may have planned. Your investors want to know how they are going to get rich quick from your company and you must have a five-year plan in place to demonstrate how.
The exit strategy will also validate that you know how to safeguard the value of your start-up.
- Practice your pitch
I cannot emphasize the amount of practice you need before your actual pitch – I would recommend at least twenty-five times before the big day. It may sound like a lot, but trust me, if it helps get your idea off the ground, it is worth it.
Practice in front of a friendly audience first – your family, close friends, associates. Tape yourself if possible to help you review your mistakes and what you could have said better.
Moreover, your pitch will have complex numbers and financials and in order to articulate them confidently, you will need to practice.
So practice and then practice some more before the D-Day.
- Anticipate questions
The more you practice, you will be able to anticipate a list of obvious and not-so-obvious questions your investors might ask you. Sit with your partner and associates and create a list of prospective questions. Brainstorm their answers together and keep adding more questions to the list.
If you are prepared this way, you will be able to answer questions you didn’t anticipate too with just as much confidence.
- Keep the pitch WIP
Be open to tweaking your pitch deck after each session with potential investors. You are likely to receive comments and feedback that will work as constructive criticism.
For instance, someone may have expressed concern that they do not know your associates, you can add a ‘Meet the Team’ section in your PPT then. Another may have mentioned something about the technology you use after which you can enhance your slide on technology.
Keeping it Work in Progress will allow you to work on new insights while constantly being a critique of your own performance.
In summation, sell a vision because, after all, you are looking for investments in your dream, more than anything else.