According to the recent MoneyTree report from NVCA, PricewaterhouseCoopers there have been five straight quarters of over $10 billion invested by venture capitalists. Based on data provided by Thomson Reuters, investors remain hungry for a piece of the innovation pie.
With this continued interest from investors, there are many opportunities to pitch your company. From new pitch contests like the 36|86 Southern Series, an initiative of Launch Tennessee, which has been touring the Southeast and ends with the award of a $36,000 prize in Nashville in June; to established pitch contests like Y Combinator which invests $120,000 in small increments to startups twice a year.
Every pitch is an opportunity to learn, but you don’t always find out why you missed the mark.
Paul Singh, Logan Bartlett and Sig Mosley, long time fixtures in the Atlanta investment, market, share what really gets their attention, or really turns them off, when listening to startup pitches.
Here’s what they had to say:
Paul Singh – 1776
1. Three Minutes – Anything longer than 3 minutes is usually a bad idea. If I can’t figure out what you do, how much traction you have and why this is important within the first 3 minutes, talking for a few minutes doesn’t usually make things better.
2. Lead With Traction – If you’ve got any sort of traction, lead with it. Burying your traction at the end of a 3 minute pitch is risky — you may have lost the audience’s attention by then, especially if it’s late in the day.
3. No Excuses – In 2015, there’s no excuse for a bad pitch. Popular companies have posted their pitch decks, a few accelerators have published demo day videos and many investors are actively blogging and tweeting. A smart founder should be scanning all of those things to be prepared.
Logan Bartlett – Battery Ventures
4. Historical Financials – Including outer year projections in a deck, but failing to include historical financials is a pet peeve. I care more about what you did last year than what you plan to do in 5 years. This seems obvious but it happens more than you think. Startups really get my attention when they know all of their financial metrics cold and can crisply explain each.
5. Know Your Competitors – When people indicate that they don’t have a competitor. Either that’s not true or you’re in a bad market. Either way, we’re not doing the deal. Startups get my attention when you demonstrate an intricate understanding of each competitor in the market.
6. Understand Your Buyers – Startup founders who have an extensive understanding of the buyer of their product are much more likely to keep my attention.
Sig Mosley – Mosley Ventures
My biggest complaints with pitches are…
7. Not addressing competition
8. Reading slides
9. Not prepared for Q&A
Startup pitches get my attention when…
10. They solve a “must have” problem
11. Include a solid team
12. Exhibit a solid understanding of the market