There are hundreds of posts on how to pitch VCs: what to say, what to wear, what to demo, etc. So I have never bothered to focus on this topic. But I was recently at a pitch where an experienced CEO pitched a VC, and it went poorly in my view. I was an observer at the meeting. So, I thought I would share a few thoughts on pitching:
1. Make it incredibly clear what your company does: it needs to be so clear that a non-techie can understand. Anyone with ZERO knowledge of the product space should be able to understand what your product does. It might take 5 minutes of explaining, but get this done up front. Avoid buzz words and acronyms. And if you are using terms that have more than one meaning make it very clear how you are using it. For example, when I hear the word “App”, I think of an app in an app store. If that is not the meaning you intend, make it clear what you do.
2. Don’t assume that because your product is incredibly cool and functional that the VC listening will automatically understand why anyone would give a hoot about the product: at the meeting in question, the VC actually asked the question “why does anyone care about this?”. Usually the founders hit this point out of the gate. This also relates to what the product does. You have all heard the expression “what pain does your product help?”. Well, make sure to cover that so that no one has to ask that question.
3. Don’t dominate the conversation: a quiet room is a sign the meeting is not going well. If you encounter a quiet room as the pitch is proceeding you might consider saying something like “I think I have lost you – how can I make this more engaging.”
4. Never talk for more than one minute without giving the VC listener a chance to ask a question: And, if the VC is not asking questions, pause and say “do you have any questions at this point”. Silence means that the VC does not care or that the VC is not understanding. This “one minute” rule might not apply at the very beginning of the meeting where you are explaining your product and the pain point.
5. If you bring a team member to the meeting, make sure the team member talks: this relates to dominating the conversation as well. A wallflower does not send a good impression. The CEO should be the primary talker, but the team members should be weighing in. In the meeting in question, I tried to weigh in a bit too. An engaged room is the goal.
Leave your input in the comments. Thanks.