I’ve been thinking about putting together a series of posts about pitching, not just to RRE, but in general. Some other bloggers, particularly my friend Mark Davis at DFJ Gotham Ventures, have done an admirable job of putting together well thought-out and structured guides that go through a lot of best practices around pitching, and I’m frankly not looking to recreate those efforts. Rather I occasionally see a poor practice repeated so frequently that I think it might be helpful to point out a few “hot spots” in pitching methodology that I think are important.
Today’s topic is one of the absolute most important: SAY. WHAT. YOUR. COMPANY. DOES. I am continually amazed by the number of PowerPoint decks, executive summaries and in-person pitches that don’t tell the investors being pitched what the company’s product or service does until halfway through. This is not the right approach. If you’re sending around a deck, the second slide should be a succinct description of what you want to do. In an executive summary it’s the first paragraph. If you’re pitching in person you should plan to tell investors what you’re doing shortly after introductions have been made and you have all sat down to “get down to business”. If you need a script, it’s something like this:
“Thanks for meeting with us. We’re [ScoobyDooCorp] and we’re [the first ad network for pet-related websites].”
Instead, the first half of the pitch is often one of three things:
- Long-form description/discussion of the management team’s accomplishments.
- Lengthy discourse on the problem or pain point being addressed.
- Treatise on the technology, how it works and why it’s superior.
Don’t misunderstand me – every one of these is important and I want to hear them all. But if you tell me these things before you tell me what your company does, it makes it much harder for me to contextualize the value of these other parts of your presentation. This isn’t a “VC ADD.” issue. It’s not that we’re so impatient we can’t listen to a well-structured pitch. But it’s much more valuable to you as an entrepreneur if I’m hearing your accomplishments, the problem you’re solving or the virtues of your technology in the context of what you’re going to do after I fund you.