What Are Some Common Mistakes Founders Make When Pitching To Investors?

About three years ago I sat through a bunch of pitches with a VC fund I was helping. It was amazing watching every one of the companies presenting make the same mistakes. Here they are:


A. You have to get to the point fast.


You’ve got seven seconds to make an impression. Seven seconds. That’s it.

The CEOs I saw pitch all took several slides before they explained why their company was going to win. Worse yet, the explanations were not convincing. And…


B. Your pitch is way too complex.


You don’t need to explain how your product or company works down to the last detail. You do need to make it instantaneously obvious what your company does and why your company will change the world.

Try this simple test. Give your presentation to wife or husband or significant other. Someone that doesn’t know your business.

Ask them why your company is going to win. Better yet, just show them your first slide and then ask them why your company is going to win.

You are in good shape if they get your value proposition. But, more likely then not, you’ve got work to do.

Let’s say you can actually explain why you’re going to win, and you can do it quickly. Then…


C. You have to get your financials right.


There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive. You should be aggressive.

The CEOs I saw pitch all had no sense of reality. The worst was a company showing $100M in revenue with 90% net margins.

Sorry, but you lose all credibility when your financials don’t match up with reality. Oh, and maybe it’s just me, but I’d love to see your financials in a simple pro-forma format.

A pro-forma spreadsheet is better than a graph. Finally…


D. Get done with your presentation on time.


Every single CEO I saw present these past couple of weeks didn’t get done with their presentation on time.

You’ve got a certain amount of time to get done. The most obvious thing to do is to… rehearse. Time yourself during your rehearsal, and make sure you get done on time.

And the great thing about rehearsing your presentation, beyond getting the timing right, is your presentation will be get a lot better.

For more on successfully presenting, read: How You Can Make A Great First Impression In Less Than Seven Seconds.

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