Getting in front of the right investor to pitch your business plan is difficult enough. Securing funding from the meeting is even harder. Top VC firm, Andreesen Horowitz (A16Z) estimates it sees about 2,000 pitches a year and invests in between 20 and 40 of them. This means, on average, you’ve got to have a better idea and make a more convincing presentation than 99 other firms pitching for the same money.
In no particular order and directly from the mouths of VC’s themselves, here is a list of the top 23 recommendations for making a great pitch:
- know the backgrounds of the investors you’re meeting with;
- come with carefully prepared questions tailored to the firm you are presenting to;
- leave time for the investors to speak;
- be clear about what you are looking for from the meeting;
- don’t be overly conservative with projections (have data to back them up);
- practice answering questions;
- be honest when answering questions – if you don’t know the answer, say so and that you’ll get back to them later with it;
- keep it short – max. of 4 to 5 bullet points per slide;
- keep it short – no more than 15 slides;
- put the details in an appendix to the deck;
- focus on the financial details – the investors certainly will;
- be snappy – keep their attention;
- show why you and your team have the best credentials to execute the business plan;
- stick to your guns on the issues that matter most to you;
- key performance indicators are crucial – know them backawards – you will be asked about them;
- know your competitors and how you will build defensibility in to your business model;
- saying there are no competitors is a turn-off – indicates there is no market;
- don’t talk about your exit strategy – investors want to know you can build the business;
- demo your product (if you can) at the beginning – showing is better than telling;
- get to the point immediately – what is your product?;
- be focused on one business model – presenting several indicates you don’t have one;
- present quantitative data with charts and tables;
If you’re looking for some useful resources to help you with your pitching then watch David Rose’s TED talk on “How to Pitch to a VC“. These old pitch decks from start-ups will give you some ideas for content. To give you an idea what happens in VC pitches, this video from A16Z features a reconstruction of Sandbox VR’s presentation to the firm with a “director’s commentary” from A16Z General Partner, Andrew Chen on his thoughts of the presentation and why he was convinced by it.
Growthink, which helps companies raise capital, also has a useful and comprehensive guide to creating an investor pitch deck which is well worth a look.
Finally, in the words of seasoned investor and pitch coach, David Rose:
the single most important thing about your pitch is you. You need to convince VCs that you are the entrepreneur that they will invest in and make a lot of money in return. The single most important thing about you to convince them of: integrity
Martin De Saulles
Editor, Information Matters
Dr Martin De Saulles is a writer, analyst and lecturer specializing in the commercial applications of data.