At some point in everyone's entrepreneurial journey you will have to pitch to investors. Some of you will get warm introductions and do a pitch at a coffee shop or in their office. Some of you will be lucky enough to be approached (usually by an associate at a VC firm) typically over the phone. And some of you will have an opportunity to introduce yourself to an investor at a social function.
It is this last pitch opportunity that I am talking about today. So, you get into your power pose for a few minutes back in the hallway, put your game face on, and walk up to me, your investor target. Then, you completely embarrass yourself with one of these thoughtless mistakes.
Who Are You? You can start humming the Who song right now. I will wait for you. For the love of Pete, please introduce yourself! If we are going to build a life together, I am going to need to know who you are. Not your entire life story, but at the very least, please tell me your name and where you are coming from. Like a good networking meeting, a short and relevant story should rule the day. Remember, you are selling you as well as your idea. For 1st time founders, let me reiterate--I am investing more in you than your idea, so the sooner I can get to know you the better.
Pitch Diarrhea. Yep I said it. Are you one of those people who when stressed just keep talking until you either wear out or the person across from you interrupts? Obviously this is a really bad trait that must be stopped now. I guess some part of you thinks that if you use enough words one of them will resonate with me and I will become intrigued. Well it is the opposite. Your wall of words will only confuse me. (Reminder I am an investor so my knowledge is inches deep and miles wide.)
I need to know precisely what you are thinking. That is why so many people use the "my company is Uber but for plant maintenance" framework. I instantly have some context for what comes next. Now, I am not advocating that you use this framework, but the idea is still sound. Give me a simple framework and then add more layers with my continued interest.
Have Something More Than an Idea. There is only one investor who will invest in your idea--your mother. Guess what? It's not the idea that she in investing in so don't fool yourself into thinking that you have investor validation. Give me something that shows me that you have something. Anything.
Maybe it's a story with some juicy insights about the 50 customer interviews you have conducted. Maybe it's a prototype of your app coupled with the 1,000 people who have downloaded it and actually used it. Maybe it's the revenue you have generated over the last 18 months. You have one goal and one goal only--you must separate you and your company from the 5 equally hungry and passionate founders standing right behind you ready to squash you and your idea.
Yes, this is an opportunity that you were not prepared for but that does not give you the excuse to not be prepared. Don't embarrass yourself! Think about the social situation, it is loud; there are many people around. Maybe I just got done speaking. Maybe I am with my wife. You are lucky if you have about 3 minutes to get me interested in a follow up meeting. What do you need to do to convince me to offer that meeting?