November 3, 2017
Most of the time, I love office hours. They gives me a chance to listen to pitches and hear some of the great ideas manifesting in the entrepreneurs of the future. This week, however, I had an odd meeting that reminded me of some epic fails when it comes to pitching your startup idea. I will protect the “Pitching Parties” in this post and not identify them, but here are a few things not avoid unless you want to fail spectacularly while pitching:
Strike one. If you’re late, you immediately look unprofessional. Plus, if the person has a meeting after you, your time will be cut short. But most importantly, you’ve shown a lack of respect for the person you’re meeting with.
Generally lateness is just poor planning on your side. If you can’t make that time because you have another meeting or still have a day job, pick another time you can make. If it has to be early in the day, that’s ok. Just don’t be late.
Don’t go off script too much. You want to get into a dialog – but you need to make sure that the investor is asking the questions that you want them to be asking.
Let me give you an example: you have a secret sauce, great. How will you explain it without compromising your trade secrets? You need to have that answer in advance. Waving your hands and talking about how magical your solution is or the awesomeness of your “superpower” doesn’t provide credibility.
If you’re the only one talking, you’ll never learn more than you already know. If the investor isn’t asking questions, they have either lost interest or they’re bored, and neither of those outcomes are good for you.
Plan breaks in your pitch to have enough “space” for you to take a breath and ask for participation. If an investor knows your market, you may want to ask the question, “If this was going to fail, why would it fail?” You will learn a lot from that question and it may change your strategy months or years earlier in the process.
Don’t Have an Ask
To be honest, everyone investor knows you have one. The key is to just be clear about what you actually want from the meeting at some point. Are you looking for customer referrals, potential investment, team members?
Even if you’re not currently raising capital, you need to have an ask. At the very least, ask for permission to put them on your regular email list. If you don’t have one yet, start it today. Every two weeks you should send out a summary email about progress and updates.
You get to set the final conclusion of the meeting. Leave yourself enough time to summarize what you want the investor to remember. I’ve watched too many meeting trails off at the end. End on your strength, not your weakness.
First impressions matter. They cause early judgments, and early judgments are difficult to overcome without additional time. Time is one thing you haven’t yet earned in this relationship. But the right pitch can get you off to the right start.
Read more about pitching at TechCo
This was originally published on Dave’s blog
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