What We Learned About Pitching to Investors from Running Demo Days in NYC

October 22, 2015

6:00 pm

Since I joined SeedInvest, I’ve been helping companies to prepare their presentation for our investor demo days in New York. Once a month we invite companies that are listed on SeedInvest to present their companies in an in-person demo day format. We limit each pitch to five minutes, which keeps the message simple, focused, and straightforward.

We’ve learned a few things about what is most persuasive when talking to investors and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you the the internal guide that we give to companies raising funds on SeedInvest. The pitch deck that you use for in-person public speaking and an investor deck that you send by email are very different. Every presentation must be tailored to its specific audience. At our events, we have a range of investors with a variety of backgrounds. It’s safe to assume the majority aren’t experts in your industry vertical, so clarity of communication is key.

I usually recommend that people start with 10 slides, presented for 30 seconds each, for a total of 5 minutes.

1: The Intro Slide

First take a moment to introduce yourself and your company. Give a high-level summary of what your company does without getting too into the weeds.

2: Big Problem

What’s the big problem you’re solving and why should your audience care? All great companies exist to solve a tangible problem in the market – this is your chance to make a case that it’s a problem worth solving. Don’t use too much text to distract from the story that you’re telling in-person.

3: Solution

Now that you’ve defined the problem in a relatable and compelling fashion, what’s your hypothesis? In a few short sentences, you should be able to boil down exactly what your company does and the value that it provides to your customers. Again, keep it simple so that your grandmother would understand it.

4: Traction

After presenting the problem and summarizing your company’s solution, show that it’s also a problem that your customers are willing to pay to solve by highlighting your traction to date. This slide is critical to keeping an audience of investors engaged. Don’t focus on projections; focus on exactly how you’ve proven out your hypothesis.

5: Market Opportunity

Your traction may be impressive, but what’s your growth potential? Use this slide to emphasize the addressable market. This is where you make investors realize the potential disruption that you’re causing in the market. While it’s great to be in the billions, be truthful. It’s a number investors will remember and ask about.

6: Competitive Edge

If it’s a problem worth solving in a market ripe for disruption, there will be other competitors in the playing field. So highlight your secret sauce and show how that is positioning you better in the market. Don’t get too in the weeds discussing competitors. Focus on your company. If there is one obvious big name competitor, make sure you clearly articulate that “unlike x, we y.”

Slide 7: Team

Above all else, people invest in teams. Use this time to showcase your background and the other executive’s backgrounds. Highlight relevant experience and impressive past accomplishments. Make a case for why you’re a winning team.

Slide 8: Raise

How much are you raising? What stage round is this? What is the valuation (or terms if a note)? After your cover financing, include previous investors or advisors who are already in your court. If you can show fundraising traction, it goes a long way.

Slide 9: Why Now?

As you wrap up your pitch, make an argument for investing in your company in this round. Why should investors make a bet right now? Why is now the right time for your company to raise capital and grow fast? Why is this space ripe for disruption? This is your chance to make a call to action to the audience.

Slide 10: In Summary

You’ve presented a lot of information in a short period of time. To finish your pitch, drive home the 3 key points of your pitch to keep investors thinking after you leave the stage. Whether its traction, market, team – it’s up to you to decide what 3 details you want investors to remember.

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Marketing Director at SeedInvest Helping startup companies to raise capital online.

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