Whether you’re entering one of our Cox Business Get Started pitch events, or searching for funding on your own, your presentation skills must be sharp. Here are five tips for pitching your start-up to investors.
1. Know the numbers
Investors want to know that you’re prepared and have deep insight into both your company and its industry. Anecdotal evidence can help with that, but the real key is to have supporting statistics. The old adage “numbers never lie” holds true in this particular case because investors want to know how much your start-up needs, what the current overhead is, the point of profitability and the estimated timetable for reaching that.
Study all the relevant data you can ahead of your presentation and incorporate it into your pitch. You should be able to talk knowledgeably about what specific stats mean for your business and whether they’re indicative of emerging trends.
Additionally, be careful of pulling out too many numbers. A few high-impact figures will show that you understand how to identify relevant data for your business and its industry.
2. Keep things moving
In an interview with Mashable, Todd Medema, COO of AutoRef.com, explained that having a great stage presence and entertaining your audience can go a long way toward success.
“If presenting is acting, then you need a good story to tell. Think about how movies and books draw you in, make the experience personal, and keep you engaged over several hours,” Medema said. “Imagine trying to keep an audience engaged with your talk for several hours. The greats can. Why? Because they use pacing, they keep changing things up so that you never get bored.”
You should move through the least important points of your pitch somewhat quickly to avoid losing your audience’s interest. Highlight the most interesting information about your start-up or idea and then move on to more minute details. This will keep your pitch moving at a brisk pace so investors will remain engaged.
3. Believe in yourself and your company
Confidence is the key to many aspects of managing your business, but is doubly important when it comes to pitching to investors. Writing for the American Express OPEN Forum, Jason Calacanis, an investor and the founder of the LAUNCH Conference, noted that a positive attitude is essential during your presentation. Calacanis points out that many investors want to work with someone who’s confident and won’t need constant reassurance every time the chips are down.
You need to remain positive throughout your pitch. Calacanis recommends demonstrating how much fun you’re having with your business because it helps project the right kind of attitude. In certain cases, this can be the deciding factor on whether someone will invest in your start-up.
If you’re worried about your presentation, do your best to relax. Take a few deep breaths and run through your pitch mentally. Taking these steps is a good way to stay calm and combat any lingering doubts before speaking to potential investors.
4. Have a strong support staff
Inc. Magazine recently asserted that investors like seeing startups with strong teams. Ideally, this group will have previous experience as a unit because a successful track record is always a plus.
According to the article, the ability to attract strong professionals on a limited budget is a real feather in your cap. Think about it from an investor’s perspective: Companies that can hire top talent and emerging experts on a limited budget likely have a great deal of potential. As a result, backers will realize that their capital can help kickstart an exciting new enterprise.
When filling out your team, you should look for bright individuals who have proven themselves within your industry. Search for candidates who have worked in similar businesses and helped them reach incredible levels of success.
Additionally, hire professionals who are as excited about your company’s mission as you are. During your start-up’s first few months and years, everyone has to be enthusiastic and willing to search for solutions to every problem. You need a team who believes in your mission.
5. Explain it simply
Pete Higgins, a founding partner of Second Avenue Partners, told The New York Times that he invests when entrepreneurs can give simple explanations for complex subjects. Higgins reasons that people who can give clear pitches on complicated subjects “have done their research and that they can communicate — all factors critical to a company’s future.”
Albert Einstein boiled this down when he said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
During your pitch, avoid jargon and unnecessary buzzwords. Explain everything in clear, understandable terms to demonstrate your mastery of the subject to potential investors.