There are lots of great posts on the interwebs about how to structure your investor pitch, but not a lot out there on how to run the actual pitch meeting. So, I thought I would share my tips for getting the most out of a VC pitch meeting.
Know who you’re meeting: That means: i.) know the background and sector interests of each partner (if you’re meeting more than one) so you know who to focus on (i.e. the person who is most interested in your sector); and ii.) think about potential synergies with the fund’s portfolio in advance so you can bring that up at the appropriate time.
I sit in too many pitches where the entrepreneur pitches his or her heart out for an hour leaving little time for actual discussion. This is a waste of time for all sides. You get nothing out of it. And we don’t get a chance to drill down.
Remember, the sole purpose of a pitch is get investors excited enough to go deeper. It’s not to convey all of your thoughts about the business in one session. And it’s not to explain “how” you do what you do. i.e. excite vs. educate.
If you have an hour meeting, here’s how I recommend breaking it up:
5 mins – intro & background: establish credibility with your audience by letting them know who you are, what you’ve done in the past and what led you to founding this company.
Note – don’t waste time asking the fund or individual partners to intro themselves. It’s not that this is beneath them, it’s just not the best use of scarce time. Believe me, if they like your opportunity they will be falling over themselves to explain their backgrounds and ability to add value. So, that can come later. First job – get them excited!
5 – 40 mins: Presentation: Cover your pitch in 10 – 15 slides. No more than 40 minutes (including up front intros). See end of this post for some great links on how to craft your pitch courtesy of my friend Austin Hill.
45 – 60 mins: Discussion, feedback, next steps: Hopefully the VCs have been engaged throughout (if not, that’s a bad sign), but now is the time to get the discussion going. Ask them what they think, like, don’t like.
Overtime: This is the magic. Our pitch meetings are often 60 minutes (sometimes 30 for an intro). You know we are excited if we keep going past the allotted time.
Make sure you leave the meeting knowing how the investors feel about the opportunity and with some clear next steps. Often the next steps are as simple as ‘we will get back to you within a day with next step’. This allows the partners to chat together. But at least there’s a plan.
If you have follow up action items on your end, follow up within 24 hours. Time matters and investors love teams that move fast.
- Venture Hacks PitchHacks eBook ($9)
- Good Resources to read
- Garr Reynolds Google Talk on Presentation Techniques