Lessons from Techstars on Perfecting the Startup Pitch

August 30, 2016

9:00 pm

Your pitch is an asset to you and your startup. I’m not just referring to the digital asset of an audio recording or video. It’s an intellectual asset that is critical during the fundraising period. Not only is it critical in order to have crisp, powerful statements in regards to any and all investor questions, but the process you have to follow to truly understand and communicate the vision of your business is an invaluable one. I wish we wouldn’t have put it off until now.

A lot of entrepreneurs and investors criticize startup accelerators for how much time they make founders allocate to developing their pitch. I can see where their distaste comes from, however, I found that we created the most compelling aspects of our startup pitch by spending time on it daily while at Techstars Boulder. We finally found — through iteration — a way to put to words what we were feeling, and the vision we had for our company.

Our mentors were incredibly helpful during this process. We spent multiple sessions with many mentors, going over little things like which words to use where, and where to throw in little pauses. For the first time ever, we got extremely nit picky about developing our presentation. Little details like this were exhausting, but made all the difference in my confidence and delivery when Demo Day arrived.

Of course, it never hurts to have the founder and former CEO of a $2 billion technology company from your same industry introduce you before you pitch.

I’ve embedded the video footage of our startup pitch from Demo Day as a resource to you. It’s certainly not perfect, but hopefully it will give you some good ideas for your own startup pitch. We watched over 100 other startup pitches, extracting things we liked from each as we developed our pitch. I want others who are crafting their own pitches to see our pitch as another data point. Following the video, I’ve provided what I believe to be (1) the “essentials” of pitching, (2) a great way to structure a pitch, and (3) the “DOs & DON’Ts of pitching (in part two).

AncestorCloud Techstars Demo Day 2016 from Wesley Eames on Vimeo.

The Essentials

The content of your pitch is actually secondary. What investors really want to feel and see during your pitch is natural, unwavering passion for what you are doing. The bad news is, passion can’t be faked. You either possess the passion for what you’re doing, or you don’t. It either keeps you up at night, or it doesn’t. You won’t be able to hide it if you’re not completely consumed by the thing your company does.

An investor once told me his favorite thing about a pitch is when he thinks he knows exactly where it’s headed, but is then surprised by something the entrepreneur says or does. He said:

“You are truly excited about something you normally don’t care about, and you want to give the person your money because they just changed you, or convinced you to change your mindset.”

What this investor is saying is, you have to be very deliberate about your presentation. Instead of relying on industry facts and jargon, tell a compelling and surprising story. Give your audience a reason to have more excitement and optimism about your industry and venture than they had before they met you.

This is a preview of “Getting Pitch Perfect: Lessons from Techstars”. Visit Techstars to read the full post.

This was originally published on Medium.

This article is courtesy of Techstars, the best global ecosystem for entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market. From inspiration to IPO, Techstars empowers the world’s most promising entrepreneurs throughout their lifelong journey by providing a global ecosystem made up of tens of thousands of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners.

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Wesley Eames is the Co-founder and CEO of AncestorCloud (Techstars Boulder ’16), a genealogy marketplace connecting family researchers with experts around the globe. He is also the creator of Cousin App, and was previously an Advisory Board Member at Global Family Reunion and the Marketing Manager at Faulkner Media Group.

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