Important Things to Remember when Preparing for a VC Pitch
We’ve had a lot of conversations with start-up CFO and CEOs over the years, and they all have very similar things to say about doing a VC pitch. While it may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised how many start-up founders forget simple things like these when they start raising venture capital. Since it bears repeating, here are some basic points you need to cover when doing a VC pitch.
Preparing for a VC Pitch: Before the Meeting
Send a brief email outlining who you are and what you do and try to keep it to 3-4 sentences tops while still being polite and gracious. Attach your PowerPoint deck as well so the VC can glance through it ahead of time, see what your business process is like, consider what the competition might be, go through your website, etc. Don’t know how to create a PowerPoint deck? Read David Cowan’s blog post on how to do just that. It may be several years old, but his points are still extremely valid. NEVER send a VC a Word doc of your internal business plans; they absolutely do not want to wade through that.
Preparing for a VC Pitch: During the Meeting
Your brief email from before is a prelude to telling a VC more about yourself during the meeting. Take the opportunity to give a more detailed background on you, your team, and your company in order to get the VC interested in you personally. This is your moment to shine, so take it. Then, segué into what your company does, but keep it short and sweet! If you can’t describe what you do in two sentences or less right now, then you need to work on cutting it down.
Now that they know who you are and what you do, clearly define the problem that you see in the marketplace, why you’re the only one who can solve it, and how you plan on solving it. VCs need to know that you have this worked out already, otherwise your company will look like a rudderless ship. Then if you’re performing a demo of your product, do so by telling a story about the average user and how they would use this product in their everyday lives. Don’t just walk through the feature list because those kinds of details can be easily forgotten without a story to help the VC imagine your product’s place in his or her life, thus reinforcing its value.
Once you’re done with your VC pitch, and before you leave, don’t be afraid to ask for a reference to another venture capital source. VCs will generally be happy to refer you to someone else, and it gives you another lead to go on. Mark Suster has a really great post going into this, and it’s well worth a read.
Preparing for a VC Pitch: After the Meeting
Don’t expect a VC to get back to you right away; like you, they’re very busy people, and so you might fall off their radar. Instead, send them a brief, polite follow up email, perhaps one that demonstrates some momentum within your company by including some “exciting news” that you happened to “forget” to mention in your meeting. It’s also helpful to use multiple channels when following up. If they hear about you from their own acquaintances and contacts, that’s a great way to stay on their radar; so figure out who influences that VC and whether you have connections who can drop a line on your behalf. Finally, if they say no, just take no as an answer. Word gets around in the start-up world, and if you have a reputation for badgering VCs, you’ll find it much harder to get other meetings.
For More on Doing a VC Pitch…
There are hundreds of resources out there for doing a better VC pitch, and our tips certainly aren’t the end all and be all of crafting the perfect pitch. Dave McClure has a great article on 10 tips for pitching VCs, and obviously TechCrunch often has founders and VCs alike writing guest posts, such as Raj Kapoor’s “A VC’s Advice On How To Pitch VCs.”
Questions about VC pitching? Let us know in comments below or contact Early Growth Financial Services.
David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, a financial services firm providing a complete suite of financial and accounting services to companies at every stage of the development process. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor, whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.