There are many blog posts out there about how to build your VC pitch deck, what to include and not include in it etc. But much more important than what you say is how you say it. At the end of the day, the one thing that investors care about most is YOU. When we listen to an entrepreneur pitch, we are not only trying to assess the idea and the business model but most of our attention is devoted to the entrepreneur himself – trying to evaluate how he handles questions, how he thinks, and what was the rationale behind some of the decisions he made in the past.
While it’s always important to be yourself, here are a few tips that will help you bring the best of you:
- Stating the obvious– one of the biggest turn-offs is when an entrepreneur goes to great length to explain obvious points. This could be explaining what is a network effect or a freemium model, or taking a long time to explain the role of your customer success team. Seeing someone do this makes investors believe he is either not sophisticated enough or just thinks that they are stupid (in which case he shouldn’t be talking to them at all).
- Too technical – This is a trap many Israeli founders fall into. While some VCs have technical backgrounds, they are most likely far from being technical experts. When you explanation are too technical you will not only lose the investor’s attention but also will most likely miss the big picture and the things which really matter to your company.
- Know your investor – you should always come prepared when you meet investors. Read their bios and know what companies they invested in. When we see entrepreneurs that haven’t taken the 10 minutes to do this, it makes us question how prepared they will be to customer meetings and how professional they are in general.
- Listen, but be prepared to push back –investors will many times throw ideas during the meeting based on their previous experience. Some of these ideas will be good and worth perusing but at the end of the day you should know your business better than anyone else. We want to see entrepreneurs who know how to listen and are open to getting advice, but can also push back when needed.
- Don’t exaggerate – you have to be optimistic to be an entrepreneur. But there is a big difference between being optimistic and exaggerating. We often see entrepreneurs show logos of POCs as customers or over-exaggerate about their background. A good VC will do his homework and when this gets revealed you might end up looking like a fool.
- Know your space – Some of the best companies were started by people who came from a different field. But when you meet investors you should know your space inside out. You should have a good answer to all the questions and there shouldn’t be a stone you left unrevealed. For example, if you don’t know some of your competitors it’s a bad sign.
- Be attentive – Another big downer is when an entrepreneur fails to read body language or nonverbal cues from the investor. If you see that the other side is not interested in a topic then just skip it, if you see that you lost him by going to deep – back up. If you are not observant you will most likely fail in getting customers, retaining good employees and handling complex negotiations.
- Chairman or investor pitching– This is a trap that too often young entrepreneurs fall into (and also something I see much more in Israel). While it’s nice you brought a strong and experienced chairman or a supporting investor who is accompanying you in the fundraising process, we care much more about you. It’s an easy pass decision when someone else answers all our questions instead of the CEO. We want to back strong CEOs who have enough presence to stand by themselves and not be in someone else’s shadow
I hope this helps. The key point is that you should always remember it’s not only the “what” but also the “how” that investors care about.