Presenting your startup to investors is more than just introducing yourself: you have one chance to make them get interested and want to invest in your project. As a rule of thumb, for every 100 pitches an investor hears, they give funding to only 1 of them. Besides, if you fail to pitch your startup at the first try, it will be hard to follow up those guys later to earn your second chance.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 14 tips to successfully pitch your startup to potential fund givers. They will all come in handy even if you’ve already been there and have some experience in presenting to investors – tailoring your presentation is always a good idea.
#1. Know Your Investor
This step is often skipped by many startups, still, it’s crucial. Before reaching out to an investor and scheduling a meeting with them – be it one individual investor or the whole startup competition event judged by a group of investors – make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Find and learn everything you can about them, e.g. their investment history, personal interests, network, etc. The more you know about whom you’re gonna deal with, the more chances are that you’ll manage to impress and persuade them to invest in your project.
#2. Ask for Introductions
Preparation is the key to success. Make sure the potential investor has heard about you before you come and ask for money. A good way to do this is to approach them personally on LinkedIn or ask those who may know them for an introduction. Be it a consultant or a founder you’ve met at a conference, connect with them. They all can be your way to approach investors indirectly.
#3. Explain What Your Project Is About
When all preparation steps have been taken, it’s time to talk about the pitch deck itself. The first thing you should always keep in mind about your presentation is being exact. Explain exactly what your product or service is about. Even a narrow description is better than a vague one. Remember that your goal is not to describe everything your product can do, but persuade the investors that you’re worth dealing with further.
Be clear about the problem you aim to solve. If you can’t convince an investor there’s a problem your product solves, they will not get interested in your solution.
Tell exactly what makes your product differ from others. If there’s nothing special about it, there’s no sense approaching investors at all. Thus, make sure your product is unique in a way while designing it.
#4. Try to Excite
That’s right – impress your audience. A successful pitch is a combination of business and emotional needs. If your startup has great business value but doesn’t hit your investors emotionally, it is likely to have fewer chances to be selected.
When and how can you do that? At the very beginning of your presentation, because that’s the time when you win the attention of your audience. The more attention is earned during the first 5 minutes, the more chances are that you’ll be listened to further. Start your pitch with an exciting intro and follow with a trustworthy elevator pitch. Think of an entertaining video explaining how your product solves the challenges your customers have.
#5. Take Little Time
Investors’ time is the most valuable thing they give you before they even decide to fund your project. Thus, the less time your pitch lasts, the better. You already know that even if your presentation takes only 10 minutes, it doesn’t mean that you get all 10 minutes of attention. Use your time wisely.
Move at the same pace while presenting your project and do not be in a rush in the end. Make sure you don’t stop on one slide for more than three minutes.
Don’t talk about secondary matters long – your competitors or resumes should form single slides you cover quickly at the end of your presentation.
Leave some time for the discussion afterward. If that’s a meeting, it’s better to make your presentation more like a conversation rather than a monologue. Besides, there are always some questions after an interesting and meaningful presentation. 😉
#6. Explain Your Revenue Model
The two main questions all investors want to know answers to are: a) how your startup is going to make you rich and b) how your startup is going to make investors rich.
To answer them, make sure your pitch deck contains your revenue model – the very framework you’re gonna apply for generating financials. Moreover, clearly explain your exit strategy for 5 years, to answer them how your project will make your investors rich for 5 years.
#7. Show Your Demo
A great thing to show to your investors is a demo since it explains what your product is all about in a more clear and entertaining way. That said, don’t turn your demo into a catalog of your product’s features – start with a verbal explanation of the problem your product solves and then show how it does this with the help of your demo.
#8. Speak Properly
The first thing to do before preparing a speech is to decide who’s going to speak to the audience. If you are the only founder, that’s OK. However, if your team is composed of several founders, letting each of them speak might take much time or cause unnecessary attention distraction. We’d recommend that you choose one or two people who are good at speaking and let them talk in turns.
Secondly, make sure you do not both speak and fuss with something on your laptop while presenting your project. Let another person take care of clicking on the buttons while you focus on your audience. As soon as people see that you’re busy with something else, they automatically lose their attention.
On top of that, speak slowly and clearly to your audience. You have probably noticed that we speak in a far slower and louder manner while giving a public speech. In fact, if it seems to you that you speak too slowly, most probably that’s the needed pace to choose.
Finally, if you want to memorize your speech, make sure it sounds spontaneous and informal. Think of several jokes to create that friendly atmosphere and catch people’s attention.
#9. Stay Confident
Here, we do not only talk about showing your confidence to the audience (who may or may not possess specific technical knowledge to understand how good you are at what you’re explaining).
The point here is also about being confident before your investors. Don’t worry if your company is so young that it doesn’t have an office or you lack some business skills. Smart investors look for talented people, not the super experienced ones. They want you to show you have that talent and are willing to build something really unique.
#10. Take Care of the Pitch’s Form
When you’re building your presentation, bear in mind it should contain no more than 15-20 slides. Why so little? The answer is very simple: people do not like and – what’s more important – do not perceive lots of info. Also, make sure you do not put many words on one slide (usually, a reader-friendly slide contains less than 20 words).
And one more thing: remember not to read your slides. This is something people can do without your help. Talk only about what really matters, using your slides more as a guide of what you need to tell people about.
#11. Support Your Presentation with Evidence
If you have positive customer feedback – that’s great, use it at the end of your presentation. Specific numbers are also a good point to add. All this can help you impress your audience. However, do not focus only on numbers – a good presentation is more like a story containing a good balance between words and numbers.
#12. Practice Your Pitch
This one is very simple, yet very important. As soon as your pitch deck is ready, practice it many times. Actually, the more times you do that to memorize your presentation, the more chances are that you’ll sound spontaneous – and that’s what makes your presentation complete.
13. Anticipate Possible Questions
If your presentation is good, get ready for the investors wanting to know more about your product. Leave some time after your presentation for the investors to ask some questions. And for sure, be ready to answer them. Think of all the questions that might be asked and prepare your answers. Again, make sure they don’t sound like a memorized text. 😉
#14. Prepare Emails to Send
Finally, think beforehand of your follow-ups – the emails to send to investors after the meeting. This is not only a good way to notify them on your product’s updates, but also another chance to pull their attention to your project if you haven’t received the desired response. Some investors might take their time and want to collaborate with you later – just keep trying.
Remember, the ultimate goal of your pitch deck is not about showing how cool and well-prepared you are. It’s all about making investors think you are worth talking with further.
Moreover, keep in mind that getting rejections in the very beginning is inevitable. The good thing about it is that every failure is an opportunity to improve your pitch and eventually hit the needed investors.