Tag Archives: investment pitch

Contrarian Advice on Investment Pitches from a Pitch Veteran

“We coach entrepreneurs ‘think big.’ ‘Think change the world.’ That doesn’t mean use adjectives that are not credible. Everybody’s revolutionary and everybody’s disruptive now.” 

That’s Bill Reichert, managing director Garage Technology Ventures, veteran investor, a board member on multiple startups, and someone who has heard and reacted to hundreds of investment pitches. In this talk he offers really good advice to people doing pitches now and in the future. 

“The point of the first 20 seconds is to earn the right of continued engagement. If you aren’t compelling and clear in the first 20 seconds this [pointing to a picture of a turtle trapped on its back] is where you end up.”

Bill (a former classmate, by the way) surprised me several times in this excellent talk. He’s not afraid to question standard advice, particularly what pitch coaches tell too many people too often.  For example: 

  • He advises that you don’t spend so much time on the problem. If you start with it, make the point and move on. Investors will recognize it quickly. 
  • Don’t overemphasize the story. Here too, if it’s valid, investors get it quickly. 
  • Don’t believe the common pitch-coach advice about the first 2-3 minutes. “You have 20 seconds.” (That’s around 19 minutes into this video) 

There’s 60 minutes here. Make sure you watch the first 20-25 minutes. From there, having set up some surprises, he goes into techniques. If you’re pitching, this should be really interesting to you. 

True Stories: One Good and One Bad Answer to Investor Q&A

We talk about the slides, and what they cover, but some of the more important moments in business pitches I’ve seen are not about slides, or plans, but rather about the people themselves, and how they respond. pitching

For example, I posted last week on gust.com about two radically different ways to handle questions about financials. In both cases investors had interrupted a business pitch with complaints about financial slides. One response worked perfectly, and the other was disastrous.

A really good answer

A smart woman had a financial summary slide showing when one of the investors complained:

Those numbers are different from what you show in your plan.

She answered immediately, no pauses, no reflection, as quick as a heart beat:

Of course not. That version of the plan was submitted to your deadline, three weeks ago. We’re not static ever. Things change. This chart is from our latest projections.

That was a total win. Everybody in the room understood.

A really bad answer

It was another financial summary slide. Otherwise the pitch was pretty good, and the founders impressive, but the numbers were annoyingly unrealistic, particularly the huge profitability, something like 50 percent or more profits to sales.  Several of us objected. The answer was:

We don’t like those numbers either. They were done for us by an outside financial consultant. We’re looking for somebody to come in and revise them.

Ouch. Throwing some anonymous third person under a bus doesn’t impress your investors. You can’t disown your own slides.

On the other hand, just for a note of paradox, bad financial projections are easier to fix than a bad product/market mix. That disastrously bad answer was not absolutely fatal.

(Image: istockphoto.com)