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Your startup needs capital to continue its growth and development, but finding investors can sometimes be challenging. If you know how to pitch your startup to venture capitalists, though, you have a better chance of turning your fledgling company into a success story. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help.
1. Explain your concept at the start of your pitch
When pitching to venture capitalists (VCs), you want to make sure you’re not burying the lede. The goal is to capture their attention in the first five minutes with the basics of what you’re planning. Hit the highlights, and consider it your elevator pitch. They need to know what you’re all about upfront, and then you can expand with more detail.
2. Don’t read from your pitch deck
While your pitch deck is a vital piece of the puzzle, it’s not something you want to be reading from. You should know enough about your concept and your startup’s plans to avoid reading from your slides as you present them. Using pictures and graphics, showcasing statistics and pointing out important details are far better uses of pitch decks and provide visual support for your presentation at the same time.
3. Make the meeting interactive and mutual
Asking questions, relating to others, and bringing them into the discussion are all excellent ways to get people interested in what you’re doing. If you engage VCs in conversation during your meeting, they may become more invested in your proposed product or service. Stop after important concepts to see if they have questions, or even ask them if they have stories or relatable moments to share. You want to build a rapport with them.
4. Be ambitious about the future
Don’t be afraid to dream big and to have bold ideas about what you want to do. After all, your vision is creating the opportunity for a startup that could change the world. As long as you have the skills to back it up and can show that it’s a wanted or needed concept with a market for it, the sky really can be the limit. Being timid won’t get you the funding and support you want.
5. Know the specifics of your target market
To pitch your startup to venture capitalists successfully, you need to know your target market. It shows that you’ve done your research and understand the value you’re bringing to the table. It also shows potential investors that you have a market and know who your customer base will be. A product or service that sounds like a great idea still won’t sell well if there’s no market for it or what it offers.
6. Show that you know your competitors
Just like knowing your target market, you also need to know your competition. While your startup may bring something new to the table, it’s unlikely that you will have no competition. Other companies may be doing all or part of what you’re trying to do, and you want to show that you’re aware of that.
7. Don’t shy away from money conversations
You’re pitching your startup to potential investors for a reason, so don’t act like you’re not looking for funding. Answer the hard questions, and be open about the money you’re looking for. A straightforward attitude can take you far; investors will know what you want from them. Also, be prepared to clearly show VCs how their investment will be used and how far you expect that money to take you. Details are important.
8. Ask for non-monetary resources
In some cases, you might not be pitching solely for funds. Maybe a particular VC has connections you’re looking for, or you need a mentor. There’s no reason you can’t ask for resources that aren’t financial.
9. Be honest about what you don’t know
If you don’t know, say so. Nobody has all the answers, and venture capitalists may not want to take a chance on someone who doesn’t need help or understand risk and uncertainty. Besides, honesty is still the best policy. It’s important to have the majority of the answers to questions investors will ask because you want to show that you understand what you’re trying to do, but being humble and honest will still go a long way.
10. Show pride in your team and concept
Don’t be afraid to talk up your team and the value of the concept you’re presenting. Humility is a good trait, but there’s no reason not to address actual value and be clear on what you and your startup co-founders can bring to the world. If you have someone on your team with a particular talent, ability, or level of experience or education, let investors know that you see the value in that person and what they can do for your company.
11. Keep your pitch deck short and to the point
If you have more than 10 or 15 slides in your pitch deck, it’s probably too much information. Venture capitalists aren’t looking for a presentation that takes hours or goes into every excruciating detail. Keep their interest by staying focused on what’s really important.
12. Practice, practice… practice!
Last but certainly not least, don’t pitch your startup to venture capitalists without practicing. That will make you more comfortable, and the information will flow, helping you sound more confident and explain concepts clearly. Practice also helps you find anything you want to change before the pitch so you can get the funding and other support you’re asking for. Friends and relatives can help, so pitch to them and let them ask questions or share their concerns. Being prepared builds confidence, which could change the game for your startup and its needs.