5 Great Tips on Giving a Business Pitch to Investors From Startup Experts
Make your business pitch shine and sparkle in front of investors with tips from experienced startup experts to give you that YES!
So you’ve scored a meeting with an investor. It might seem like that was the hardest part, but don’t just sit down and put your feet up. Investors are a tough crowd, and like any audience you need to know what captures their attention when you give them your business pitch.
Many entrepreneurs with great ideas get left behind just because they aren’t able to give a compelling presentation. In the Cerius Business Today podcast, we spoke to three distinguished CEOs who have years of experience working with startups and training other CEOs. They had a lot of great advice on how to best pitch a business idea to investors.
Focus on the Visual Aspect of your Business Pitch
“If the presentation that somebody puts in isn’t visually arresting, they’ll be pushed to the side. It doesn’t matter how good you think it is, it has to be visually aware. It has to be dynamic. It has to look interesting. The story has to be great,” says Kevin Gibbs, who has been with four startups from angel funding to the final sale of the company and has also worked on turning companies around.
Steve Jobs was a master of presentations. His greatest trick lay in the visuals. He kept his slides simple and avoided a clutter of text. Force feeding your presentation with bullet points and information will make it boring and it’ll all just glaze over your audience’s heads. Venture capitalists (VC) see a lot of business pitches and a lot of presentations. If yours doesn’t ‘pop’, it’s most likely going to be rejected.
Gather a Good Team
After hearing about your idea, investors will want to know the A-Z of your team. They want to know about the people who will actually be executing the business plan, and if they can be trusted to deliver.
Jeff Greenberg is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in the high-tech community and with technology based startups. He tells entrepreneurs, “The first priority of any investor is the team. Is this a good team that can execute? That can pivot. That is aware of the context in which they’re operating.”
In many cases, VC’s will give greater consideration to the team over the idea and technology behind it. Jeff explains, “It’s fairly well-known that a good management team can change the product as necessary. But the most awesome product idea won’t be a successful business, if you don’t have good people running the operation.”
Research Everything in Your Business Pitch
When you’re standing in front of an investor, you have one chance to try and convince them. With so many great ideas and business pitches coming their way, one wrong thing can set you back. They will notice if you get a forecast incorrect, or the budget’s muddy.
Not only should you research your business pitch inside out, you should also research the people you’re business pitching to. Find out the amount they’re willing to fund. If you’re looking for $10 million, there’s no point in business pitching to somebody who has a preference for $1 million investment.
Kevin says, “Venture Capitalists and funders these days are often very specific. There’s no point in business pitching to a Chicago VC who specializes in industrial funds and automotive funds, if you’re talking about something through social media. Don’t just go into a VC because they give you a meeting. Make sure you research that they’re in your market.”
Jeff tells us that the second priority of investors is your market (after the team). They want to know how big it is. Do you have competitors? Is it dominated by a monopolistic incumbent? Is there an opportunity for you to start with some niches and then grow into full market? The third priority is the product. He reminds entrepreneurs to always remember from the investor’s point of view: team, market, product – in that order.
Give Them Personality
Ken Hubbard is an advisor at ACH Ventures holding investments in 60 companies, as well as, sitting on the board of directors for multiple technology and consumer product companies. Ken says, don’t go in with the sole objective of getting money. “The objective of the business pitch is to get their attention so you get the next more in-depth discussion. It is always going to be the first step on the path of funding, not the last step.”
Investors invest in products or ideas, they invest in people. When they sit down to a presentation, they are making judgements about you as a person. Can you deliver? Can you be trusted? Do you have the drive to see this project through, whichever way it may need to go?
“They have to get to know you,” says Ken. “You have an early stage company with no history. Sure you got a path they can look a little into, but the reality is that if you are an early stage company they have to sit down with you, get to know your personality, your character, see if you really did put together a team. All that is part of what I call the subdue diligence. They can look at documents and information, but again it is not you.” They need to know you since that is what they are investing in.
Remember the 3 C’s: Clear, Concise, and Compelling
Jeff tells his CEOs one thing, “Everything has to bleed the 3 C’s of Clear, Concise, and Compelling.” Cut out any information that is redundant and irrelevant, and stick to the essentials. Don’t overload your presentation with text, slides and bullet points. The less, the better.
Every aspect of your business pitch needs to be compelling. “They will buy from you if you make the business pitch compelling. If you make the technology compelling, if you make the market story compelling, and if you make the team compelling. The business pitch isn’t designed to make you money, it should be designed to get you money. Just remember that,” says Kevin.