The art (and science) of pitching to investors

The art (and science) of pitching to investors

For the final session of Entrepreneurship 101 last week, Peter Evans, founder and CEO of Speakerfile, dove into the art (and science) of the effective pitch.  It is important to keep in mind that there is no one way to do it, but that you are trying to get to a “Yes.”

In his talk, Peter reminded us that pitching is about seeking other people’s money—going beyond you and your family and friends. This new level of investment creates a whole new dynamic. For many investors, investing is a numbers game, and their shields go up as a defence mechanism because they can’t say yes to everything.

Entrepreneurs need a “Yes.” Investors need creative ventures that have great potential in the market. They want to be excited by an entrepreneur’s passion and credibility.

Getting a “Yes” requires three levels of engagement: emotional, rational and financial. In your pitch, it’s important to connect on each of these levels. Involve your investors and put them in the picture as partners.

Peter explained that investors understand the power of teams and want to be part of good ones. Teams pivot better and faster, they can overcome market challenges and they can navigate better to keep lean startups moving forward. A team’s composition is very important to potential investors.

Building a 4H team

When it comes to building a team, Peter recommended building a “4H” team:

  • Hackers at the code level
  • Hipsters—that is, design thinkers, such as product managers
  • Hustlers or visionaries who can sell the deal
  • Helpers, such as good advisors and mentors

You are pitching an executive summary. You are laying out the components of your venture for potential investors to consider so that they can make the best decision for their involvement, time, expertise and funds.

Four components of a good pitch

Peter shared the four components of a good pitch:

  1. A real problem: You want to solve a real pain point for a market that wants to pay.
  2. An attractive market: There should be lots of room in the market to scale a business.
  3. A unique advantage: This might be the team or the patent.
  4. A compelling investment: You should have key metrics that explain the bottom line for investors.

Peter also cautioned entrepreneurs against pitching the “Google Earth” model of their venture. Don’t take your investors right down to “street view.” Instead, show them what planet you are on, what category you are in,  where you are playing and who is adjacent, and take the investor through a day in the life of your venture.

The point of the pitch is to connect. Show potential investors your passion and make them excited about joining you (emotional engagement). Reassure them that your venture has a market, that it is credible and that you have a great track record (rational engagement). And then present very good numbers (financial engagement). If you show them that your venture is just what they have been looking for you may just get a “Yes.”

Produced by MaRS Media.

Join us this week for the Up-Start! competition

Join us on May 15, 2013, for the annual Entrepreneurship 101 Up-Start! Competition where our nine finalists will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win $10,000, along with a pitch video production package from MaRS Media with a retail value of $4,000. Click here for more information.

The Entrepreneurship 101 series will begin again in September 2013. In the meantime, catch up on previous lecture videos here.

Resources from the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit

Want to connect?