Let's say you're hoping to get into a startup accelerator like 500 Startups or Seedcamp. What do you most want before you apply? Probably a chance to pick the brain of those who will be evaluating applicants about what they're looking for.
Which is what made a recent event in Seoul so valuable. The pitching event gathered together not one or two, but a half dozen representatives from 500 Startups, Alchemist, Startup Bootcamp, Seedcamp, Open Network Lab, and Chinacclerator, all of whom were willing to offer suggestions for improving applicant pitches, as well highlighting common ways they see founders go wrong.
Indian startup blog Your Story rounded up the resulting advice. Here's a selection:
You can't cram in everything...
Of course, you want to make a strong case for your startup the first time you're pitching yourself to a VC or accelerator, but don't let that enthusiasm drive you to overload your presentation with excessive details. Getting accepted into an accelerator is a process -- one that you can't speed up by trying to cram everything in at once.
"The reason you're making a pitch is to get a meeting, not to convince an accelerator or VC to make an investment on the spot. Meeting One will lead to Meeting Two, which will hopefully give way to Meeting Three. Don't lay out your entire case," the post says.
... but do talk specifics.
You might not want to cram every data point you have into your pitch, but that doesn't mean you should totally skip specifics. "How will you get your first 100 or 1,000 customers? It's easy for startups to make up market projections or valuations. What's harder is sitting down and coming up with a strategy or traction or early growth. Make sure to talk about how you will grow and be specific about the next milestones you plan to reach," advises the post.
Don't forget to sell your team.
According to the post, founders often go wrong by focusing too heavily on their business and short-changing themselves. Make sure you explain why are you the right person to start this business.
"The team and your passion, more than anything else, separate you from competitors. You must demonstrate a personal attachment to wanting to solve the problem you're tackling.Otherwise, the accelerators will assume you'll give up when things get tough and your bank balance is sitting at zero," it says.