From left to right: Virginia Vegas, Even Fossland, Eirik Nerdal, and Bjørn Christensen. Photos by: Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen

Pitching 101: “How to impress the investors” — as told by the Angel Challenge team

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of sweaty palms and a sudden memory loss concerning everything your startup does — so here’s an article to help save you from such embarrassment.

Pitching: Something all startups have to do — whether they are looking for investors, customers & clients, or just trying to convince their family members and friends that they’ve got what it takes to succeed in business.

So chances are that you’re going to pitch a lot more than you might consider at first, when you begin your startup journey. It’s never wrong to have your pitch ready at hand, no matter who you meet in the startup ecosystem.

After all, an investor can be whoever happens to believe in your idea. But where to find advice? Below, we have gathered some of the best pitching advice from the Angel Challenge team.

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Virginia Vegas (Program Leader of Angel Challenge) onstage during the first Fundraising For Startups session of fall 2019, in Oslo. Photo by: Startup Norway / Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen

1.“Show Investors the Money. You are likely very passionate about your product or service and how it can change people’s lives. But investors want to know first and foremost how you are going to make them money.”

And we know that’s not the “usual way of things” in Norway: Quite a few Norwegian startups are created because the founder got a good idea, and not primarily because she wants to make big money. But somewhere down the road, the goal is of course to make a successful business. Carry that mindset from early on — and show your investors the business model.

2. “Practice in a friendly environment. Show your pitch deck to as many people as possible before you go into formal pitches. You’ll gain insights that will help you identify areas for improvement and fine-tune each slide.”

So make use of your friends and family: They want the best for you, after all — and are not going to tell you to pursue an idea they don’t believe in. At the same time, they are very forgiving: Even if your first pitching of the idea wasn’t a great success, you’ll most likely get another chance soon enough.

Bjørn Christensen (Investment Manager of Angel Challenge) onstage during the first Fundraising For Startups session of fall 2019, in Oslo. Photo by: Startup Norway / Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen

3. “Don’t over-explain the obvious. I’m not as stupid as you think — don’t kick in open doors.”

Investors are smart people, and are most likely well tuned into what modern lives are like. This means you can “cut some corners” when explaining your concept: When pitching to a tech-interested audience, you can assume they’re quite up to date on the innovations of the industry. So spend your precious pitching seconds (or minutes) talking about your innovation, instead of dwelving into details your investors already are familiar with.

4. “What is it you do? What is your product? Upfront — now! You have to tell me about your product in an understandable way, but I also need to know who you are — and why you are creating this product.”

In the startup communities, few things are more boring than a pitching session without any particular highs. So in a lineup of startups, make a point of standing out: Keep your pitch upbeat while not eliminating important details. Who knows, maybe you’re comfortable with making a few jokes as well? Humor is a great way of showing relatability and insight into what you’re doing. Think of pitching as grabbing someone’s attention on social media: You only have a few seconds to do that (or your viewer/reader will scroll on to the next post), and you won’t get a much longer chance on a pitching stage either.

5. “Don’t make unsubstantiated claims and statements. Sooner or later, you’ll need to back them up somehow.”

As in most other areas of life: Honesty pays off, and especially when you’re trying to gain someone’s trust. Don’t frame your goals as if you’ve already reached them: Promising more than what you can deliver will quickly turn out to be a risky game, especially when your investors start asking for the proof that’ll back up your bragging.

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Eirik Lilland Nerdal (Startup Manager at Angel Challenge), talking to one of the participants at the Fundraising For Startups in Oslo. Photo by: Startup Norway / Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen

6. “The winner is not whoever spends the most time practicing their pitch. The winners are those prepared for what’s next.”

The balancing act of attending pitches and events, versus actually working to make the product that’ll give you access to the pitches and events: One can not exist without the other. Or can they? Sure, pitching is an effective and direct way of reaching many people at the same time, but don’t get caught up in the frenzy of “startup stardom”. Proving you’re willing to work for your success is oftentimes even more important than spending a lot of time on stages. The compelling rockstar life will prove to be short-lived if you don’t have what it takes to make a successful business.

7. “Never walk off the stage without a call to action.”

What do you want your attendance to do after you walk off the stage? Do you want them to buy your product, talk to you afterwards, or perhaps read up on the problem you’re trying to solve? Don’t leave the audience hanging — let them know where you’re going next, and that they can join in, or otherwise help you in your quest.

Even Fossland (Startup Coordinator at Angel Challenge) onstage.

8. “You should *always* start and end a pitch with your best points. It’s incredibly important to grab the audience’s interest early, and to give them a good and lasting impression.”

As a kid, you probably understood something important about presenting while listening to your classmates’ presentations at school: It’s possible to have a very dull and boring presentation, and you’ve probably been in the audience for quite a few of them. (That’s because presentation techniques aren’t something most people actually learn while they’re in school.)

However, it’s also possible to have a very engaging and interesting pitch — by for example starting off with details you’ve amplified for the audience.

9. “Speak slower than you think. The most important is not having said the most in the shortest amount of time, but to allow your audience the opportunity to understand what you’re actually saying, and what you’re doing.”

No, your audience isn’t dumb — but they (probably) need some time to catch the nuances to what you’re saying, especially if the topic is complex. A hurried pitch feels far less well executed than a pitch where you actually take your time. So please relax. You can even move a bit around onstage, just to keep from turning into a petrified founder (they rarely make the best impressions). Allow yourself to breathe, and the audience will breathe too.

Startup Norway

Supporting the startup ecosystem since 2011 with support services like AngelChallenge and Startup Extreme.

Benedicte H. Tandsæther-Andersen

Written by

Content Creator of Startup Norway (Angel Challenge and Startup Extreme). Email: benedicte @ angelchallenge . com

Startup Norway

Supporting the startup ecosystem since 2011 with support services like AngelChallenge and Startup Extreme.

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