BeBee, the fast-growing social media network and self-publishing platform for which I am a Brand Ambassador, was recently named a "top 15 EU unicorn startup" by Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley.
BeBee has been pitching to investors literally all over the world. I have recently been given the honor to participate in a few of the discussions. My first call with an investor was worth a cool $5 million. Welcome to the big leagues kid!
I had little time to learn how to give a pitch. While I reached out to some savvy entrepreneurs and read some great blogs before the call to get a few pointers, pitching to VCs has largely been on the job training for me.
Here's what I've learned from my first few pitches:
You can't fake it
Investors are pros at reading people and they get fed a lot of BS from people all the time. If you are anything other than your true authentic self they will see right through it, because they have seen it all. Even if being yourself means that your company doesn't shine quite as brightly, never oversell. Authenticity is huge to investors and if you don't have it, they will move on.
While your amazing idea and start to your company got you in the door, investors want to know how your business will scale. Make sure to have a clear plan that you can share on how the company will scale over the next 5 years and beyond.
Make sure to have someone on the team that can speak to high-level questions regarding the financials.
Be a problem solver
Investors want to know what problem your product or service will solve, and whether or not the problem justifies having another solution added to the marketplace. You need to be able to demonstrate to them how your company will solve that problem more efficiently than the solutions that are currently out there.
How are you different
There should be a clear distinction between your brand and your competitors. Just like with any sales pitch, don't slam the competition. Instead, highlight your competitive advantages and how you plan to capitalize them.
A good marketing strategy is a must
You've wowed them by your idea, they're convinced that your product will solve a problem for consumers, and you've proven that your business idea can scale. Now you must tell them how you will take your product to market. Investors will want to see that your plan to capture market share is solid.
It's all about the people on your team
Highlight your team during the pitch. Having a strong team inspires confidence in investors. If one person dominates the conversation it may give investors the impression that your company is a one-man show.
A good product and idea may get their attention but at the end of the day, investors put their money into people they trust.