Justin Kan’s 8 Tips for Pitching on Stage

“I wanted to give everybody some tips on pitching since I spent all of yesterday helping YCombinator companies with their demo day pitches. To be honest, these lessons probably also apply if you’re pitching anything on stage — not just a company.”

  1. Speak really slowly. It should be so slow that it’s almost painful, otherwise people won’t be able to understand you. When people can’t understand you, what you need to realize is they are just going to go on their phone, go on Facebook, and immediately shut their brain off.
  2. You need to be very confident. Confidence is key. People pattern-match the way you speak with success.
  3. Don’t try to teach people everything. You’re just tyring to get them to the next step, which is to follow up with you. You can only communicate 1–3 things max.
  4. You don’t have to explain everything about your business. A lot of people get tripped up on this. Instead you want to focus on the few key points that will convince someone to follow up with you, and only hammer those home.
  5. No UI. People always put screenshots of their app, but no one can understand that in ten seconds. If you do put screenshots in, just take the small part of the UI that really matters — you don’t have to include the real thing.
  6. Don’t get high on your own supply… No, just kidding, that’s one of the Crack Commandments... Here’s the real #6: Don’t try to have a massive story arc. Climax early, or people will stop paying attention. People today have the attention span of a gnat. Furthermore, they don’t really care and don’t have to listen to you. You’re competing with them looking at their phones, so start with your big hit.
  7. Whatever you do, do not include your P&L. You’re not trying to sell them right there. What you need to focus on is getting them to the next stage where you can actually have a conversation and dig in to all the questions.
  8. Finish with a summary. Leave the 2–3 points that are most compelling about your business behind you on screen, and just say thank you. That’s it. You’re done.

Literally, some of these tips have been used to raise hundreds-of-millions of dollars at various demo days. So, good luck!


Justin gave these tips on 3/15/16 on Snapchat. If you want to watch more content like this when it breaks, follow him on the ghost: https://www.snapchat.com/add/justinkan.