Perfecting Your Pitch by Garage Technology Ventures

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The purpose of your pitch is to sell, not to teach. Your job is to excite, not to educate.

Pitching is about understanding what your customer (the investor) is most interested in, and developing a dialog that enables you to connect with the head, the heart, and the gut of the investor

The VC is asking, “Is this company the best next investment for me and my fund?”

  1. Tell a clear, compelling, easy-to-repeat story — the story of an exciting new startup.

2. Position your company as a perfect fit with other investments the investors have made and their firm is chartered to make.

3. Beat out the other new investments the firm is currently considering.

This covers telling a good story

Cover Slide: Company name, location, tagline, presenter’s name and title.

Key objective: Everyone in the room should know the basic idea and value proposition of the company, including the target market, before the next slide is shown

One or two sentences orally, reinforcing and extending the tagline, everyone should have a foundation for what is to come

Cardinal sin: Launching into your presentation with an investor at the table thinking, “I wonder what these guys do?”

Slide 1: Company Overview.

State concisely your core value proposition:

What unique benefit will you provide to what set of customers to address what particular need?

Add three or four additional dot points to clarify your target markets, your unique technology/solution, your traction (launch date, current customers, revenue rate, pipeline) and your status (funding required)

Key objective: Flesh out the foundation you established at the beginning

Feel free to drop names early and often

Slide 2: Market Opportunity.

You need to make it clear that there is a big, important problem (current or emerging) that you are going to solve, or opportunity you are going to exploit, and that you understand the market dynamics surrounding the opportunity

Why does this situation exist and persist, and why is it only now that it can be addressed?

Slide 2.1: Opportunity Size.

Show that you really understand who and where your prospective customers are from the ground up

Slide 3: Solution.

What specifically are you offering to whom?

Use common terms to state concretely what you have, or what you do, that solves the problem you’ve identified

If you can demonstrate your solution (briefly) in a meeting, this is the place to do it

Slide 3.1: Delivering the Solution.

Do you complement commonly used technologies, or do you displace them

Who exactly is the buyer, and is that person different than the user.

You might need to offer a use case or two to make sure we understand how your customers apply your product or service.

Slide 4: Benefits/Value.

State clearly and quantify to the extent possible the two or three key benefits you provide, and who specifically realizes these benefit

Communicate that your solution is so compelling that your customers can’t live without your solution

Quantify the scale of your benefits. You can’t just be better, faster or cheaper; you should be 5x or 10x the current alternative

Slide 5: Technology/Secret Sauce/Intellectual Property.

You might need a separate slide to convince investors that no one else can easily duplicate or surpass your solution

Highlight the elements of your technology that give you unique potential for leverage and scale as you grow

Slide 6: Competitive Advantage.

You need to convince the investor that lots of folks will buy your product or service, even though they have several alternatives

The toughest competitor is often the status quo — most prospective customers can muddle on without buying your solution or your competitor’s solution

The best way to convince an investor that you really do have a better mousetrap is to have referenceable customers or prospects articulate in their own words why they bought or will buy your offering over the alternatives

Summarize the three or four key reasons why customers prefer your solution to other solutions

Make sure your check-box criteria reflect the market’s requirements, not just your product’s features

Slide 6.1: Competitive Advantage Matrix.

Detailed list of competitors by category with their strengths and weaknesses in comparison with your company

Slide 7: Go-to-Market Strategy.

The single most compelling slide in any pitch is a pipeline of target customers and strategic partners that have already expressed some interest in your solution

Focus on articulating the non-obvious, unique and potentially disruptive elements of your strategy

Slide 8: Business Model.

How do you make money?

Explain your pricing, your unit economics, and why you are going to be especially profitable

Make sure you understand the key assumptions underlying your planned success and be prepared to defend them.

Slide 9: Financial Projections.

Show the one or two key metrics that drive revenues, expenses and growth (such as customers, unit sales, new products, expansion sales, new markets), as well as the revenue, expense, profit, cash balance, and headcount lines

Investors are not focused on the precision of your numbers; they’re focused on the coherence and integrity of your thought process.

Slide 10: Key Milestones/Financing Requirements.

Outline how you plan to take in funding — how big each round will be, and the timing of each — and map the funding against your key near-term and medium-term milestones

Include your key achievements to date

Investors want to see measures of accomplishment, not measures of activity

They want to know that you are asking for the right amount of money to get the company to a meaningful milestone

Team Slide.

This should cover the three or four key players in the company

Most people put the team slide at the end, but sometimes it makes more sense to put it after the Opportunity slide, assuming your team has strong domain expertise

Focus on a significant, relevant accomplishment for each person that identifies that person as a winner.

Key objective: Investors should be confident that there is a good credible core group of talent that believe in the company and can execute the next set of milestones

Summary Slide.

Key objective is to solidify the core value proposition of your company in words that are memorable, specific and unique to your company

This is a good place to reinforce your tagline, or mantra — the short phrase that captures the essence of your message to investors

You should know the issues about your company that investors are most concerned about

Make sure every point you make connects with your audience.

Keep your slide text very, very short.

Engage your prospect

Ask questions

Prepare good use cases: what the investor really needs is a concrete example of how people will actually use it

Drop names, early and often: as customers, as partners, as members of the team

Everything should be short, content-rich bullets in a font large enough to read without squinting.

Never use your presentation stack as a standalone document

It is perfectly okay if it is not readable when you are not around

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