You’ve been invited to pitch investors as part of raising your next funding round. Congratulations! Now you have to get your presentation together and get prepared.
As readers of this blog know, UPRAISE is the marketing services provider to startups at Plug and Play, the world’s largest incubator and accelerator. In that role, we attend a weekly session where 30+ companies pitch to venture capitalists, typically for funding, but also for operations support and other needs. Based on hearing more than 5,000 pitches from startup entrepreneurs, here are several tips to put your best foot forward:
Customize Your Presentation
Customize your presentation to the pitch opportunity in terms of length, content and audience. Nothing looks more unprofessional than when a CEO flips through slides looking for the ones they want to present in front of an audience. It says to potential investors they couldn’t take the time and effort to tailor their presentation.
Practice and Time Yourself
At Plug and Play’s pitch sessions, entrepreneurs have three minutes to complete their presentations and there is no formal Q&A. Practice your pitch and make sure it’s 30-60 seconds less than the time allotted since you’ll invariably ad-lib some comments throughout that will bring it to three minutes. Entrepreneurs come off as entirely unprepared when a session moderator cuts them off halfway through their presentation because their time is up. For sessions that include Q&A, think through the difficult questions investors could ask and have answers ready.
Have Your Contact Info on Every Slide
Potential investors are often distracted during a session where multiple startups are presenting and may miss the beginning of your presentation or have to leave it early. Make sure to have your name and contact info at the bottom of every slide so that a potential investor can contact you.
Keep Your Presentation Simple
Avoid inserting video and complex animations unless it’s really critical to tell your startup’s story. It’s too easy for problems to arise and waste your limited time to present.
Create an Effective Presentation Structure
I’ve seen an enormous range of pitches, and the general structure that tends to work well includes:
- Top-level overview of the company
- Highlight the problem your solution solves
- State what your technology does and how it works
- Emphasize what your technology does that no one else’s does
- Include your total addressable market (TAM), serviceable available market (SAM) and serviceable obtainable market (SOM) to frame the market you’re selling into. Here are brief definitions of each:
- TAM = the total market your product/service could potentially sell into
- SAM = The market your product/service best fits into
- SOM = The market your startup can reasonably serve given its current resources, such as limited distribution
- Revenue forecast for the next 3-5 years
- The current team and a brief description of their credentials
- Existing investors, partners or influential advisors
- What you’re asking for — if it’s funding, include information on the use of funds
Of course, the content you have will dictate the optimal organization for your presentation. For example, we worked with a startup that offered a solution to the long wait times we all suffer when contacting customer service at a utility, service provider or other vendor. The startup had conducted consumer research revealing that the average person spends 42 days of their life on hold. We created their first slide with a large 42 on it to demonstrate the problem they solved. Investors in the audience were visibly surprised by this stat and the company got their funding!
Today’s fundraising environment is challenging, given the continued talk of recession, ongoing high inflation, and the uncertain relationship between the U.S. and many of our trading partners. Building a tight, well-practiced and strongly organized presentation will help you receive the funding and/or resources you need to grow.
And when you receive your funding, you’ll need to think through how to promote the new investment.
Do you have questions, or would you like us to review your presentation? Just let us know.