HOW TO PITCH ANGELS AND VCS
Dress the way your audience would expect you to dress-Business casual dress is universally acceptable. However, you must know the expectations of your prospective investors. I have a diverse dress code and am ready to wear jeans when meeting a business contact at a beach house or a suit when a meeting is taking place in a major metro area’s financial district. Venue, location, and geography should influence your decision greatly. What’s acceptable in South Beach may not fly in Seattle. So, it is essential to be flexible, be comfortable, and be sensible.
Be fully capable of completing your presentation with 2 or 3 slides-It is highly probable that you will not finish your pitch. Angels or VCs may stop you after 2 or 3 slides and engage in a detailed, protracted series of questions closely examining your value proposition and the functionality of your prototype. If this occurs, you will need to stop the ship from running ashore by responding truthfully and completely to all questions, stated and implied, while simultaneously steering the conversation towards tidbits of important value-prop validating details from the remainder of your pitch.
Beware of the über Geeks-Many Angels and VCs have, official or unofficial, technologists-in-residence or untitled advisors who will be in attendance during your presentation. Many of them are brilliant. However, quite a few of them are misdirected and wrongly motivated. Often, they are former Founders or Employees of recent exited or failed startups, somewhat disillusioned, incubating their next project. They think that they are in the room to actually discredit or defame the entrepreneurs. They often fail to add value to the experience. Their best-case contribution should be to identify potential risks within the venture that are correlated with the technology that the company has employed. Whether the risks are security or scalability issues, technologists-in-residence should quantify the risks then offer potential cost-effective solutions. They are there only to evaluate or troubleshoot the technology. Instead, they sometimes rant on about minutiae that should be fleshed out at a later date, not during a time-sensitive pitch with jaded been-there-done-that investors. Make sure that your own techie, expert on everything to do with your code and backend, responds to all tech inquiries with concise explanations and supporting slides from your business plan’s appendix.
Expect to lose control of the order and rhythmic flow of your slides-As I eluded to earlier, your prospective investors are in control of the pitch. They’ve set the time, place, and duration of your pitch. They’ve entered into the process with preconceived notions of what a good pitch consists of. And you must be flexible and well-organized to keep your composure during the experience. You simply must memorize your presentation and have the ability to recite it from memory without cues in multiple configurations.
Don’t Lie or Exaggerate-Avoid improvised answers. Either identify the appropriate team member who has the answer and have him/her address the question or ask the questioner to restate the question and instruct a team member to take note of the person’s name, title, and question and promise them an answer later that afternoon or the next day.