Perfecting your startup pitch: need, solution, execution, team

Many entrepreneurs often stumble when it comes to pitching their presentation to investors. Yet an investor presentation is no different than any other presentation and the thought process should start with the objective and the target audience.

Objective – The objective of an investor presentation is to trigger interest, not to share every piece of information you have ever gathered. Figure out three or four critical elements that make your start-up “shine”, make sure the flow makes sense and that you have many backup slides.

A good presentation makes one “wow” in one or two minutes.  Once you have captured your investor’s attention, use their questions to go into the details.

Target audience – We see many slides every day. Frankly, I prefer a conversation over a pitch. Actually, I prefer stories. Stories are always better than presentations. They are more personal, fascinating and express passion. If you can, start with your personal story of how you came about the need and the solution.  You can address two of the four elements I mentioned without even a single slide.

2020.vc, my recent venture fund, was pitched a few dozen times without a single slide. I walked into the room, gave a five-minutes high-level talk about what I was doing and by the tenth meeting I knew exactly what the questions would be and how to best address them. That turned the meeting into a five per cent pitch and 95 per cent conversation.

Structure – I tend to like the following structure: need, solution, execution, team. If the need is big, the solution makes sense and the team has indicated its ability to execute – I am engaged.

Over half of the presentations I have ever seen include five to ten slides describing the need, followed by additional five to ten slides describing features and capturing screenshot. Usually there will be a few additional slides describing how big the market is. This is too much information. I am not engaged.

Practice – Always start with the least relevant investors: practice, listen to questions, get feedback on your answers and constantly improve the flow and content. Constantly assess the time it takes the audience to understand and engage.

Design – Some final recommendations: Graphs are easier to understand then words, simple and concise slides are better than crowded slides full of content, meaningful titles – a person reading your title should understand what the slide is about, slides should be structured left to right (that is how we are trained to read) and finally – make sure you have a slide summarizing the key takeaways.

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About shanishoham

After 14 years of General Management and incubating/scaling new businesses & organizations for enterprises (established a $55M mobile business and a $100M/400 employees global division), I became an investor Today I’m a board member/mentor with 5 incubators & micro-VCs and involved with many other private & public incubators around the world. I also founded a VC firm named 2020 and I'm a member with a number of angel groups so i get to see & work with many startups, innovation centers and other parties across the ecosystem. I’m an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of business - Sloan Master in Management program, a 10 months intensive program for 57 carefully selected experienced Executives and leaders from all around the world.

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