Tips for a better VC pitch

I've done my fair share of pitching companies to venture capitalists and sat on the other side of the table, both as an investor and a banker, so when a friend preparing a pitch for funding asked me to critique his Powerpoint deck, I agreed. The advice, presented here, could be applied to any pitch, because most of the ones I see are too long, short on business value proposition and other things covered here.

I've done my fair share of pitching companies to venture capitalists and sat on the other side of the table, both as an investor and a banker, so when a friend preparing a pitch for funding asked me to critique his Powerpoint deck, I agreed. The advice, presented here, could be applied to any pitch, because most of the ones I see are too long, short on business value and long on concept, not to mention other problems covered here. 

This was the email I sent, sanitized to protect the innocent:

Your slide deck is way too long. Can you do this in 15 slides? How about justThe pitch must be a selling document about the reason your business must exist. seven slides? I ask to force you to prune the ideas to the essentials. I want to know: a.) what you are going to do for the customer and. b.) how you make money doing it. Then, tell me about the team.

Much of the presentation you sent is conceptual with some architectural hints. What you have here is something to talk about for an hour.

Instead, you need this to be a selling document about the reason your business must exist.

Your second slide should sell the deliverable to the customer, not your revenue goal. Anyone can set a revenue goal, so it is not the basis for a business. If you really get to a $4MM run rate/$52MM revenue rate that would be something, but this suggests you are not thinking about the need to reinvest to grow.

Slide 3: Google hits and site visits a day less than 100,000 aren't going to blow anyone away. Get to the what you do and why it matters to people who will create value for your company.

You start with the fact you need $5.5 million, but don't say explicitly what it is for. I'd finish with the amount you want to raise, after you've made the point that it is important your company be in the market, that there is a need to be met that you respond to in a unique way.

Don't be in a hurry to ask for the money. You could just leave the amount you are looking for out and say, "we need funding for software development, architecture build out, marketing...."

Can you do the Long Tail pitch without referring to the Pareto distribution curve? Can you do it by giving the viewer a different metaphor, something that surprises them? You need to show the investor you are creative, not simply repeating the concept they've heard a thousand times.

Anything but the Long Tail, it's too familiar to everyone in the VC world.

The setting the pieces slides are cute but don't make a devastating point and lead you to talk around your application rather than about it.

Start with the app doing its thing, then show how it is better than email, RSS, browser plug-ins, etc. Reduce what it does to one visual, and step through the parts of that rather than use three slides worth of graphical representations of parts of the system.

I was really wondering more about the UI, what it does, how the application is going to delight me. If I don't get that, I can't buy into the idea that it is worth funding. Get the VC to slap his or her forehead and exclaim, "Of course, why hasn't someone done this before! Eureka!"

Close on your contact info. A pitch without the follow-up contact attached is a pitch waiting to be lost.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All