6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Investor Pitch Presentation

Author: Vivek Singh, Founder, Jazzfactory.in

If you are a startup looking to raise capital, you surely are ready with your presentation. But before you go ahead and present it, it would be wise to go through the list of 6 common mistakes that startups make while presenting their business plan to potential investors.

Mistake 1: Team slide is simply a brief bio

If your team slide is only comprised of headshots, degrees and work experience, welcome to the club of below average presentations. Your investor is not only interested in your degree. He is putting in millions of dollars in your team and his biggest worry is, “Will this team pull it off? Ideas and plans are fine, but will you be able to execute?”

What makes your team qualified to do this job? Talk about the chemistry, past achievements and domain expertise. Have some of you worked together before? Do you have complimentary skills? Look at each team member and figure out what in his CV makes him an important part of the team. Relevance is the key word here.

Mistake 2: Failing to understand the objective of your presentation

The objective of your first presentation to an investor is to communicate just enough information so that you can get to the next meeting (the next stage of discussions). All you need to do is to excite them about your startup so that they want to meet you again. With that in mind, do not try to tell them ‘everything’ about your startup. There is a saying in Japanese Hara Hachi Bu; “eat until 80% full”. Follow this rule and feed your investors a bit less. They will not only relish it, but also ask for more.

Mistake 3: Not preparing for the tough questions

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Preparing for possible questions is a top priority. Once you are done with your presentation, go on every slide and ask, “What are they going to ask me?” Take the help of a mentor or friend and let me play the role of an investor who does not want to invest in your startup. What reasons will he come up with? How will you convince him? Preparing for the worst usually makes the matter easy. If you are unable to defend something, do not get overly emotional about it.

Mistake 4: Top down approach to market sizing

Assume that, as per Gartner, the polish-my-shoe-at-my-home-business is worth $100 million dollars in India. While Gartner is correct in their calculation, you cannot use this as the only measure of market size. Did you choose to start this business because of what Gartner said? You chose because you saw a problem which you could solve better than many others and there was a sizable opportunity. “If there are 1 million office goers in my city and I can attract 5% of them, I will earn 1 crore a month if I polish their shoes 20 days a month”. This bottoms up approach to market sizing is what makes the cut and shows the true potential of your market.

Mistake 5: Undermining competition

It is surprising how many startup decks do not even mention competition. Some claim to have no competition while some claim minimal competition. This is where you start losing trust with your investors. Look at the market in the totality and mention all your competitor names. You can then go niche, talk about a sub-segment and highlight absence of competition there. For 99% of businesses in the world, there is always a competition. As one investor told me, “If there is really no competition, I might not even want to invest.”

Mistake 6: Tell me a story. Appeal to my emotions

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Maya Angelou has famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Pitching expert Tyler Crowley suggests a story telling approach which can appeal to emotions. Your presentation, while appealing to logic, must also appeal to emotions. You need to make the investor feel that you are onto something big and something meaningful. Narrate these emotions through a story; how you solved the problem of Ananya (your user / customer) and made a difference to her life. Here is a beautiful startup presentation which uses this approach.

Prepare well and keep your slides clutter free. Catch the attention of the investor early on and do not overwhelm them with information. Have fun while you present your startup to investors. It’s a way to showcase to the world your vision for a better future.

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