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Written by: Kelly Bryant


It’s officially Bears season again and (speaking as a Chicagoan) that means two things: 1) the battle of Soldier field continues and 2) it’s socially appropriate to start drinking at 10am on Sundays. 

Whether you’re a fan of our beloved Bears or not, I think we can all respect the fact that playing for the NFL is no small feat. In the world of fundraising, you’re your team’s quarterback. You’ve got 4 chances to get a 1st down and get your team one step closer to a win (aka money in the bank). 

As someone who meets upwards of 75 “quarterbacks” a month, you start to learn when you’re chatting to an MVP or a rookie pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s the smallest actions or words that signal to me when a team is the real deal. To help you navigate the playing field, I’m laying out the 3 best and worst things I see teams do during a game. 


Don’t Do This 

#1 – Disregard The Clock
When you’re pitching to an investor, you’ll always be against the clock. Chances are you’ll only have 30 minutes to make an impression and get the other party excited. Make sure you’re covering the highlights and saving time for Q&A. Never assume play time is unlimited. 

#2 – Fumble Through Your Deck

When you’re talking to an investor, you want to keep your language at a 6th grade level. They likely don’t know the nuances of your industry and need to be able to relay your business back to their partners (assuming they wish to move forward). Keep your messaging tight and your pitch deck short and sweet. 

#3 Hog the Ball 

No one likes the person who never passes the ball. When it comes to pitching, you want to get the other person talking. Make sure you give her room to ask questions and clarify where necessary. The best pitches I hear are more conversational in nature where both parties are actively involved.


Do This 

#1 Demonstrate ROI 

An investor wants to know if they put a quarter into your business, they’ll get a buck out in 5-7 years. To that extent, you’ve got to demonstrate why you’re presenting a great business opportunity and not just a beautiful product with compelling features. Focus on addressing the output of them making an investment today. 

#2 – Play the Long Game 

Just like a quarterback plays 17 games (or more!) in a season, it will likely take you 7 meetings with a fund before they write a check. Great founders know the purpose of the 1st meeting with an investor is simply to get a 2nd meeting. You don’t need to put it all on the table in game 1. Rather, keep your eye on the prize and move through the process meaningfully. 

#3 – Hype Up Your Teammates 

A quarterback can’t win a game by herself. Know the strengths of your team and highlight those in your pitch. You want an investor to walk away feeling like you’re a backable, trustworthy team that can leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. 

Now that you know the play book, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Practice makes perfect, after all. 

Go Bears!


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