How to pitch your startup right

Venture Village asked me to share some insights on what to look out for when pitch investors. These points apply both for Seedcamp and other opportunities to present – from elevator pitches to partner meetings.

Who are you pitching to and what are they interested in – know your audience

Very often, startups under-prepare pitch sessions. You need to put enough thought and consideration into who you are going to talk to and what that audience wants to understand. Investors want to know a lot about the market and business model, entrepreneurs want to hear about anecdotes and insights they can apply, engineers and designers want to hear about the product. Make sure you understand who you will be talking to to make your talk most interesting – and think about what you want people to remember.

Have your messaging and core communication set in stone – find your mantra

Knowing what the core of your offering is, and delivering that one-sentence pitch without flaw is the single most important thing to get right. It should be like a mantra that you repeat again and again – the rest of the pitch should support every part of that message. For example, you might be the premier international platform for entrepreneurs looking for capital, mentors, and network (this is our mantra) – use the presentation to show how you deliver on these points.

People want data, not superlatives, as proof – use numbers

When you want to impress your audience, you can best do that by supplying them with measurable outcomes that show your progress. Traction does not mean huge user numbers or massive revenue, it only means that the line is moving in the right direction. Do you have customers that use and love your application? Are they using it in critical situations? Are referrals through the roof? Were you able to prove a viral coefficient, a cheap way of sourcing traffic? All these may be different for your own startup, but from day one you should collect data points that show anyone outside that you are moving in the right direction.

Bonus point – Demos fail. Use screenshots

I have yet to see a pitch session where all technology works right. Don’t use fancy fonts, avoid video and sound like the plague, and rely on screencasts or screenshots to present your product. Demos are good for longer sessions, but anything under five minutes should not have you clicking through a product. And when you do demo live – make sure you have a good demo account with interesting data and a well rehearsed click through story ready.

TL; DR: Key point: context awareness.