Written By: Dan Dragicevich
Okay, social experiment time. What feedback would I receive if I asked 100 founders how to structure their 30-minute investor pitch meeting? If I had to put a few dollars on it I would say over 50% of them would tell me they never thought about it. However, what many early-stage founders are unaware of is that a lack of certain elements in their pitch can make it difficult to secure a second meeting. Therefore, it is crucial to have a well-structured pitch… Let’s review!
At the early stage level, specifically Seed, investors are focused on the founder first. In general, investors want to know that this founder can build and scale their company based on their expertise. On top of that, investors are also looking for someone they like, feel comfortable around, and can relate to, which is why the 5-minute intro is crucial. During these 5 minutes, you get a chance to show investors that you’re a normal human being who loves what they do and is investable. The key to a good intro is to make a genuine connection with the investor. I recommend browsing their LinkedIn or social channels prior to the meeting to find out more about them.
And now for the good part… The Pitch! In a standardized 13-slide deck you have about 45 seconds per slide. I’ll repeat that. 45 SECONDS PER SLIDE. This means that founders don’t have time to get in the weeds and start spouting technical jargon at the investor. They won’t be impressed, it’ll be way over their head, and you won’t get a 2nd meeting. Instead, focus on keeping your talk track at a headline level (a 6th grader should understand it), building excitement, and speaking about why this is a great time to get involved. If you can keep your pitch to 10 minutes you won’t bore the investor and you’ll have plenty of time for arguably the most important part…
We often hear from investors that even though a founder was likable and pitched a great business, they didn’t leave enough time at the end of the meeting for questions, which ultimately led to a dead end. Okay, so why is this important? Typically, if an investor is interested they will have a plethora of questions that will help them understand the business in greater detail. Remember, you just pitched the business at a headline level so if the investor starts asking specific questions, take that as a good sign. On top of questions from the investor, the 15-minute close also allows you to ask your own questions and there is one question that you should ask every single time… “Hey VC, we have about 5 minutes left, but before we go I’d love to ask you what your investment process is like and if you see us within it.” By asking this question you’re able to understand more about their process, especially in regard to the timeline, and you get to know if there will be a 2nd meeting. Of course, investors like to be coy when answering if you’ll be around for a 2nd call, but if they beat around the bush feel free to press a bit and ask them to be more specific. It never hurts to ask!
Good luck and don’t forget to practice!!
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