10 tips for a successful business pitch

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Businesswoman Leading Meeting. Image from http://campus1602.rssing.com/chan-24433689/all_p335.html

Finding the right people to invest in your startup is almost like trying to get a date with a great looking person. You’ve probably got a lot of competition, and your rivals might have “better” things to offer. They might have a clearer business plan or more experience. But your goal is nevertheless to get the right investor for your company. How do you set out a business pitch that will get you to your way to getting capital from investors? How do you get investors to become believers of your vision?

1. Understand your business

This might seem a bit too obvious, but as a founder, you must be fully aware of your start up, what it entails, how it runs and how its products/services are to benefit your target market. Investors ask a lot of questions. Any questions they might ask and you appear uncomfortable act as red flags to investors. If you can’t explain your technology and its application in one minute to someone who’s never met you, then it shows that you really aren’t fit to earn their money.

2. Less is always more

Lengthy presentations are a complete turn off to investors. Your presentation has to be short and precise to the point. The assumption is that if you can’t be able to grasp and explain your concept in a short time span, they presume that your customers won’t understand it either. The whole point is to immediately grab their attention and make it worthwhile.

The key pointers in your presentation should be:

  • Problem: what problem is your business going to solve? Make it obvious and applicable.
  • Solution: give the answer to your problem using familiar concepts and making sure you maintain originality
  • Market: is there a profitable market that exists for your solution? Prove it.
  • Competitors: What can you do that they cannot?
  • Technology: What makes your technology special and why is it primed for immediate success?
  • Business model: how do you plan to make money? And what have you done so far to get that money? – Investors like knowing that you have also made strides to get capital.
  • Marketing and sales: how you are going to get exposure and build a following?
  • Call to action: What is it that the investor could contribute to your startup?
  • Milestones: What have you achieved so far and what are you trying to achieve going forward?

3. Give them a compelling story

Let’s face it, as much as numbers and facts have the power to ‘wow’ someone, they are difficult to remember in detail over a 10-minute presentation. A compelling story, however, is difficult to forget over a 10-year span.

While numbers and facts add credibility and strength to your pitch (and are essential for convincing financially-minded investors), it is the story that investors will ultimately remember and engage with.

Keep it simple and realistic. Give real names and real challenges that you have faced. From there, your use that story or that great adventure and pin it with how it changed once your product or service came along.

4. Make it crystal clear

Every piece of information in your pitch should be easily understood and straight to the point. While you effortlessly deliver your pitch, your presentation should serve to clarify or support what you are saying. Your slides should never require an investor to spend time trying to figure out what you mean.

The language used should also be simple. It should be easily understandable by both your investor and the guard at the gate. Don’t use acronyms, tech-filled language or sophisticated scientific terms.

Businesswoman Leading Meeting. Image from http://campus1602.rssing.com/chan-24433689/all_p335.html
Businesswoman Leading Meeting. Image from http://campus1602.rssing.com/chan-24433689/all_p335.html

5. Passion

What is your passion? What drives you to wake up every morning to work on your start up and make it a success? Investors need to see that is something that you actually want to put your life into, not just give up once things go wrong. Like most ventures in the world, most successful companies are driven by men and women with an unquenchable fire to see their business strive. You shouldn’t have to fake passion.

6. How does your market look like?

One of the key elements to getting capital from investors is by fully understanding your market. Notice that they will be injecting a lot of money into your business therefore you have to be fully aware of you market. Your market is what gets you your profit or your losses.

What is your target? Where do they order now? How much do they spend, and how often? How do you intend to capture your market with your business once you acquire capital? Without this level of understanding, it will be very hard to convince investors that you deserve their money.

7. Be reasonable

You need to know that the money you’ll be asking for is not only sustainable for your business but is also reasonable to the investors. After watching a few episodes of the show ‘Shark Tank’, I realized that one of the main reasons why investors are cautious about giving capital to startups is because entrepreneurs seem over eager; they have a tendency to bite off more than they can chew. You need to show that your business can first of all crawl before it can fly.

8. Be well prepared

The perfect pitch doesn’t end with your final slide. It ends when the investors have asked all of their follow-up questions and you’ve provided satisfactory answers. You’ll need to prepare adequately. Let you colleagues pretend they are investors. Have them quiz you and ask you any possible question about your pitch.

9. Give them a reason

If investors want to inject money into a certain project, they need to know why they should choose your team and your product. Is it cheaper? Faster? Give them a valid reason.

10. Confidence is key

Always strike a balance. Don’t be too aggressive or too aloof. Nobody wants someone who is too desperate or one that don’t seem disinterested. If you don’t appear to be interested in what an investor has to offer, why would they want to give you money?

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