While running a Business Angel Network in the UK I saw over 300 Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and companies for investment. What are the key things that I learnt from seeing watching those who succeeded in gaining interest from investors and judges? Whilst most concentrate on one area (Content) there are another three which are equally important in portraying your opportunity as the one to invest in. Let’s explore the attributes of the winning pitches:
- Content. Cut the content to suit the audience and time available. A pitch of 19 slides with 950 words (which didn’t get investment) is challenging to present in 10 minutes. Cut the content to the key points that make your opportunity investible and use as few words as possible to present them. Remember that you are pitching for money or to win a competition rather than for customers for your product. The audience is very different which means the pitch has to be different too. Oh, and another benefit of having few words is that it leaves you the option to change the meaning when you talk since you will often need to deliver the slides a week before the event.
- Logical Order. Make sure that you tell a story about your proposition. Moving from problem to solution, why you are the best and no-one can follow you, a quick mention of the competition before covering the financials. (I cover this in more detail on my Perfect Pitch workshop.)
- What next? Use your pitch to allow the audience to decide whether they should get in contact with you and what they will expect. Getting five people who are really interested is more important than getting twenty who are trying to figure out what you are doing. Of course, the do this well you will need a well formed picture of where you are going (which is the covered in my Funding Startup to IPO workshop).
- Manage Variety. Investors are individuals who all take in information in different ways. Think about using a variety of pictures (“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Tess Flanders, 1911), words, tables and graphs (e.g. financial section). In selecting the material be mindful of maintaining style…
- Style. Throughout the pitch deck ensure that the fonts, colours, logos, and design elements all work together from slide to slide. Choose the same colours that you are already using in your documentation and website so that everything fits together. For example, if your chosen colours are particular grey, green and purple then use them to colour areas on a map, the graphs, sales funnel diagram, etc. With this colour scheme, presenting bright red and blue will be incongruent and surprise the investor.
Once you’ve conquered these think about the three different occasions you will be using your pitch deck and it becomes clear that you’ll actually need three: one for competitions; one for investors at pitch events (where the investor has to listen for ten minutes); and one for the web (where investors can abandon the pitch at any time). But that’s for another blog…