Brevity When First Pitching VCs
Maybe it’s just me, maybe my mental bandwidth is limited relative to other investors. Whatever, the cause, I have a hard time digesting multiple 30–60 minute monologues in a day (aka, “pitches”). My preference for founders would be for them to aim for several short interactions consisting of focused, powerful content. Maybe it starts with bumping into each other at a community event, then followed up by a tweet, and then an email leading to a 15-minute call that is one of several calls over the course of a month. This allows me to digest the important stuff, tuck it away, chew on it a little while then right as that information gets stale, you hit me with something else exciting.
I understand this may not work in all situations, and at times there are time-sensitive considerations, and sometimes a deal is competitive and I’m fighting just to get an allocation — so clearly there are situations where this does not apply.
However, in most cases, I think this concept does apply. If it were up to me, I would have multiple short interactions leading up to an internal discussion with my team about investing, then once the team is on board with the founder, idea and market, then we can dig in on a lengthy diligence meeting or two. This is a solid strategy for managing the psychology of the investor.
If I were a founder, I would certainly consider the psychology of the investor that I’m pitching. The last thing you want to do in a pitch is spend 60 straight minutes talking, with no interruptions where the investor walks away feeling worn out with information overload. The best pitches, include dialogue, interruptions, questions and end in a brief period leaving the investor wondering about the endless possibilities of the business (adjacent markets, synergies in the portfolio, world domination, etc.).
When keeping it concise, and trying to get the VC on the hook, before reeling them in, focus on explaining the team, the idea, the market, competitive landscape and then bring it full circle explaining why this team can execute this idea, in this market resulting in whatever upside you’re trying to sell. Any great founder, who can pitch well, can get this done in 15–30 minutes regardless of how complicated the business may or may not be.
Maybe others see it differently, but the best pitches I’ve had lately have been short, sweet, and lead to several follow-ups. I guess my brain just can’t digest all the information put in front of it each day, so I need time to let my subconscious work through things. Therefore, the method of supplying information mentioned here, makes it more likely for me to keep seeking information about a startup.