How to Pitch Your Startup to Investors

We see hundreds of in-person pitches each year and coach our founders through hundreds more. As a result, the Maven team has put together our perspective on what we like to see in a funding pitch meeting. Each investor has their own approach and preferences; for instance, we often like to see a deck in first meetings because it helps structure the conversation and get most of our initial questions out of the way. Some investors would rather have a casual, less structured conversation. Research your target investors and ask around in your network to get a feel for their preferences.

The Deck
There are already a number of great resources on pitch decks. Here are a few solid ones as a starting point:

The ideal Maven pitch deck has a lot in common with these, plus a few unique aspects given our focus. Here’s the structure we like to see:

  • Vision Worth Fighting For
  • Problem Statement
  • Product
  • Traction (if you have)
  • Market Opportunity
  • Team
  • Competition
  • Business Model
  • The Ask
  • Milestones: What are you going to do with the money?

In addition to the structure, we encourage founders to keep the presentation very visual without too much text. You should never read directly from a slide. If you’re sending the deck ahead of time, it might be appropriate to have a bit more text if the visuals don’t stand on their own — but always strive to trim as much text as possible.

The Meeting
You should be able to cover your ~10 slide deck in about 20–25 minutes, leaving at least 10–20 minutes for questions. If interrupted during your pitch, address the question or concern and then get back to the deck. When you first sit down with the investor, make sure you ask how much time they have. Often, investors allocate an hour for the meeting but like to end 10 minutes early to debrief or make notes before their next meeting. Sometimes the day is running behind and you might have an abbreviated 30 minute meeting. Make sure to ask and tailor your speaking accordingly.

Finally, small talk before diving into the deck can be key. An investor-startup relationship will hopefully last many years, and is bound to experience ups and downs. Start by building a personal relationship and trying to find shared interests or experiences. Often an investor will make a decision of how engaged they will be during the meeting in those first few minutes.

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