They say a first impression is the last impression. And no words ring truer when it comes to a pitch meeting for your startup.
After all, for a lot of startups, a successful pitch with investors can be the ultimate “make it” moment that puts it on the path for future success.
You believe in your startup but to make sure it grows and succeeds, you have to make other people believe in it as well. That’s why it’s essential to do your due diligence beforehand and carefully prepare for your pitch.
Research, Research, Research
A one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t apply when it comes to preparing your pitch.
That means, don’t just book a meeting and show up with the same pitch deck time and time again. Do as much research as you can about the company and individuals you will be meeting and adjust your presentation material accordingly.
And when you think you’ve done as much research as you need, dig a little deeper.
Prove that you’ve done more than just memorize the company’s mission statement. Look at how the company has performed in recent years, any trends or emerging issues in its industry, and other startups it has invested in. You want to show that you are interested in what the company does, its future direction, and how your startup aligns with those goals.
A pitch is exciting, especially since you get to chat about something you’re passionate about. But it’s important to stay focused and on topic.
While it’s great to give a bit of info on your background, you don’t have to share where you went to elementary school and the name of your childhood pet dog (even if it was an awesome name for an awesome dog).
Unnecessary information can sidetrack your meeting and water down your overall message, especially if you have a limited amount of time for the pitch. At the same time, connecting with investors on a personal level can be what makes your pitch stand out from the crowd.
A compromise is to keep any background details and personal information relevant to your startup, such as the inspiration for your idea or a story about a life-changing moment you had as an entrepreneur.
Structure the Meeting
As soon as you have a meeting scheduled, find out how much time you have. Some companies might give you an hour, while others will only be able to allocate 20 minutes. Either way, you want to structure the meeting accordingly to fill the time slot.
But here’s the thing: a lot of companies hear many pitches, so you want to make sure that yours stands out. Don’t just read off a sheet of paper or put up a PowerPoint presentation. Instead, make the meeting engaging and interactive. After all, what better way to get investors to like your product or service than to have them try it out first-hand?
In fact, did you know that physical interaction can have a powerful effect on people during a presentation? That’s because research has found that the longer people touch or hold something, the longer they feel ownership over it and want it.
And since you don’t want to leave any uncertainties on the table, don’t forget to set aside some time at the end of your presentation for a question and answer session.
Define Market Need
A terrific new idea for a product or service doesn’t automatically translate to startup success. Every startup solves a problem, but that problem has to serve a market need.
The number one reason that most startups fail is because there is no market need for a particular product or service. You have to do more than think there is a market need. You have to prove it. Addressing this will not only benefit your pitch, it helps ensure the viability of your startup.
Take care to explain the research and analysis you’ve done on how your startup will address a particular market need and provide value, as well as your intended target audience.
Your startup venture is a source of pride, which is understandable since you’ve put a lot of hard work into it. You want people to love it as much as you do.
But no matter how amazing your product or service is, there are going to be times when you hear some constructive criticism.
Don’t be offended or instantly reject the advice. Doing so could not only write off the opportunity to for a successful pitch, but it could also mean you miss an idea that will help enhance your product or service.
Remember this: constructive criticism from potential investors means they are interested in your startup and seeing it succeed.
Be prepared to hear some criticism and be open to considering whether it could help better your product or service, without completely changing your vision.
Maybe luck is on your side, and you can secure a deal following your very first pitch. That would be fantastic. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to attend a few meetings before landing your first successful pitch, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Never write off any rejection, and definitely don’t let it get you down.
Don’t hesitate to ask the reason for being turned down and use the feedback as a learning opportunity. And always remember that just because an investor has turned down your startup once, doesn’t mean you can’t pitch to them again later on.
Do a little post-mortem to find ways to better your pitch for the next time, and there’s no doubt you’ll soon shake hands on a deal that will position your startup for future growth and success.