Notes from the trenches

10 key learnings from pitching to investors

During a recent trip to Seattle, we sat down with our clients Jen and Parvez from Eterniam. In the throes of meetings with investors to raise a seed round for their fledgling company, they shared some of the things that they have learned by going through the fundraising process. Here are 10 of their key learnings:

1. Practice relentlessly

No matter how prepared you feel, you’re never too prepared for a meeting with an investor.

2. Show how you’re different in the first few seconds

Even if you stay very high level, you need to prove to the investor very quickly that you’re providing a different take than the other companies who are competing in the same category.

3. Connect your company to a personal story

Very quickly in the conversation you need to make your story resonate with investors; a personal story can accomplish this very efficiently.

4. Show how you make money

Maybe if you’re in Silicon Valley you can get away with just going after a ton of users, but [here in Seattle] and most other places you need to show how you are going to make money.

5. Demonstrate scalability

If you are a tech solution that can scale, hit that early and often. This is often one of the most important points for investors.

6. Under-caffeinate

Standing up to give a pitch is like being in the blocks before the starter’s pistol goes off; you’re guaranteed to get a release of energy as your adrenaline spikes. If you measure your coffee consumption by the pot, try keeping it down to a cup or two before you present.

7. Bring a partner

Not necessarily to help you give the presentation, but rather to keep track of the questions that the investor asks during and after the pitch. Every question that they ask is something that you haven’t made clear in your pitch.

8. Take copious notes

Closely tied to bringing a partner, make sure that all of the questions and feedback gets either written or recorded. Pitching to investors is both nerve-wracking and exciting, and you never know what you’ll end up glossing over in your memory. Having a record of the feedback will allow you to take a more calculated look at what it means for your pitch going forward.

9. Use the feedback for your next meeting

After you and your partner have downloaded and caught up on your caffeine consumption following the pitch, figure out what feedback needs to be implemented for your next meeting.

10. Appreciate every pitch as a learning opportunity

Don’t be discouraged if the investor doesn’t open his or her wallet; most won’t. But do take what you learn and use it going forward!