How to Pitch Your Startup to Venture Capitalists in 5 Easy Steps

pitching your startup

If you have secured a meeting with potential investors to pitch your startup, you’re probably wondering what to include in your presentation. A great pitch is easy if you’re well prepared, have researched your business goals as well as your potential investor’s background, and demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for your business. Here are five tips on how to make the perfect presentation of your startup business to venture capitalists.

1. Be well researched.

Preparation plays one of the most important factors in any presentation, so make sure you have done your research and can demonstrate knowledge about what drives your business, your biggest customer base, and your short- and long-term business goals. When venture capitalists ask you questions about the workings of your business and industry, they’re looking for thorough, well thought-out answers. Before your presentation, you should also research the people to whom you’re making your pitch, to understand why these specific investors would make good partners. Show them what motivated you to choose their company.

2. Personalize your presentation and show enthusiasm.

When you pitch your startup, be personable, motivated, genuine, and enthusiastic. Capitalists generally invest in people, not products. One way to engage investors and get them interested is to tell the story of your business, especially if it was born out of a personal experience. Showing investors you believe in what you’re doing and are passionate about your small business makes a more compelling argument to gain their support. Also, be honest and natural. Most investors can see through exaggerated figures or a speech that’s overly scripted.

3. Cover all the basics.

In your presentation, you should cover the details of your company, including several basic components: an overview of your company, introductions to team members, your business market, financial overview, a business model, your competition, funding, problems your business will solve, your vision and goals, and a demo. Try to keep it simple and avoid including dense graphs, PowerPoints, complicated charts, and technical details. The goal is to keep them interested, not bore them and overwhelm them with unnecessary information.

4. Be selective in sharing information.

Although entrepreneurs naturally want to guard and protect their ideas from competitors, you will need to share some ideas in order to sell your pitch; you can’t keep your business completely secret if you want to succeed. Most venture capital firms have nondisclosure agreements. However, you can still take measures to protect yourself. In an interview with “ChicagoBusiness,” Dan Hess, the CEO of the LocalOffer Network, advises, “One needs to do a lot of due diligence on a potential investor before showing up and laying out something that the entrepreneur considers to be confidential.”

5. Avoid common mistakes.

Making demands during a pitch meeting is a big red light for the investors. You do want to be confident and you will need to negotiate your terms eventually, but first you need to sell yourself and your business. Another mistake to avoid is being defensive or emotional when answering questions. It’s good to be passionate about your business, but investors may think that you will put financial technicalities or other important factors aside if you’re too emotionally invested. Finally, avoid using outdated images or bad graphics in a PowerPoint presentation or showing ignorance of the industry or the investors, both of which demonstrate poor planning.

The key is to be confident when you pitch your startup. Meetings with venture capitalists can be intimidating, but practice makes perfect. After a couple of run-throughs, you’ll nail your presentation in no time.

Sarah Teczar

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