I have sat on both sides of the pitching table – asking investors for money and listening to founders ask for money for their businesses. I’ve stood in front of some of the most successful, wisest and most powerful business people trying to get them as excited about an idea as I was. It wasn’t until I sat on the other side of the table, though, that I really understood what separates a good pitch from a great pitch.
When I hear a bad pitch, I ask simple and direct questions to try to figure out if it was bad because the presenters were nervous, they didn’t practice or they don’t understand their own business.
Best Business Pitches
Too many startups hear “no thanks” because potential investors don’t understand what they’re selling. There’s a good reason for this: The startups themselves don’t understand their own products or services. It happens. Today’s version of the business might have evolved into something that faintly resembles the original concept they started with a year ago; yet, they haven’t updated their original business plan.
Elements of a Business Pitch
The pitch should answer these questions:
- What problem does your business solve, and how does this business solve it better than anyone else?
- Who needs your product or service?
- How will you reach them?
- How will you make money?
- Are you the person capable of solving this problem?
What Investors are Thinking
I’m listening for the problem this business solves and how your team will solve it better than anyone else. And, of course, how I can make money by investing in your business.
Cut straight to the point. Don’t waste time. Practice, practice, practice.
Anyone who hears your pitch should be able to easily summarize what you said in a few sentences.
You will find a lot of resources online and in books that advise how to build the perfect business pitch deck. These are the basics you need to know:
- Make the presentation interesting, engaging, attractive, lively
- Don’t put a lot of text on the slides
- Even more important ― don’t read the slides to the potential investors
- Practice the presentation so you don’t need notes when you present
- Do a little backgrounding on your potential investors so you understand who you are talking to
- Don’t give your opinion of your product or service; stick to the facts
- Don’t tell the investors how they are going to feel about your business, as in “You’re going to LOVE this…”
When to Talk Money
Be direct in asking for the exact amount of money you need. But, don’t bring that detailed 100-page spreadsheet out at the pitch. Why? Investors can be really busy. Keep the pitch direct, informative, and engaging. If they like the business, there will be follow-up meetings where you have time to go through the details. You really just need an efficient, well laid out financial summary slide that shows what the money will do for your business. (But of course be prepared for the investor who might cut right to the chase and ask the details. Be ready.)
Derek Rundell, is a successful business leader, operator, and serial entrepreneur. Derek has founded, managed and sold businesses in the technology, media and finance industries. He sits on several boards and serves as an advisor/investor to numerous established businesses and startups. Startups are Derek’s real passion, and in addition to building his own portfolio of technology, media and financial ventures, he invests in and mentors startups and entrepreneurs. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping other businesses succeed.