Even if you stumble upon the greatest idea your field has ever known, it’s very possible potential investors won’t have familiarity with your market or understand why they should invest in you. It’s up to you to explain it to them.
Investors come from all walks of life. Some are super polished and know only one or two industries really well, while others simply know a good thing when they see it. Of course, other backers you’ll meet may not even be traditional investors at all, if, say, you go the crowdfunding route.
This means that relaying your overall vision and customizing the story behind your company and the problem it’s solving is absolutely vital. Here are five tips for customizing your startup pitch:
1. Know your audience. This is critical. If you’ve developed a “standard” pitch, throw it out. Start again. You have to be able to connect with your audience, whether it’s composed of 25-year-old gaming enthusiasts or 65-year-old retirees.
I regularly change my pitch, based on an investor’s knowledge of a particular market. Start by asking questions so you can gauge an investor’s understanding of your market and the solution you’re creating. The answers you get will help you determine how detailed you need to be, without being redundant.
2. Show off your expertise. To boost an investor’s comfort level, prove that you’re an expert in the field you’re looking to enter. Your potential investors are counting on you to succeed and to know how to succeed.
Proper research and accurate data analysis are also necessary for building your expertise. Being able to say “Our customers told us…” or “Our research has shown X, Y and Z” will instill potential investors with confidence in your abilities. Third-party data is the most powerful tool at your disposal. Use it.
3. Present vital data. Remember that your investors probably don’t have the market data you do. Present it effectively by explaining your place in the market at a macro level, making sure to include the total addressable market and the serviceable addressable market. This info will help focus your data collection on the details that will draw your investors in and shed light on what you’re doing.
Once you’ve established yourself at this level, draw them into how your business operates at the micro level by including a discussion of your current and potential future customers.
4. Keep it practical. While investors are certainly looking to you to be the expert in your field, they don’t need to know the inspiration for every facet. Making your presentation too detail-oriented slows your momentum and turns investors’ attention (and commitment) elsewhere. Keep your explanations succinct and avoid getting too deep in the weeds.
5. Build confidence. The success of a pitch relies on building confidence with your investors. Through my own company’s fundraising experience, I found that a healthy mix of self-confidence and humility goes a long way. However, you also don’t want to appear arrogant about your command of the market. Just as you need the investors for capital, they need to know you have things under control and have mastery of your field.
When approaching your investment meeting, make certain your team has a bold and unified vision. Your presentation should be consistent and capable of addressing any questions or concerns investors pose. Instilling confidence in yourself, your core team and your market is vital to the execution of your pitch.
Your future success depends on a confident and balanced pitch to investors, full of relevant information and answers. Focus on helping potential investors see the vision you’re invested in -- and they’ll be more likely to invest in it themselves.
What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section.
Adam Lieb is the founder and CEO of Duxter, the LinkedIn for Gamers. Duxter is a funded startup in Seattle, Wash., poised to be “the next big thing” in gaming. Rather than listening to the conventional wisdom that “playing games was a waste of time,” Adam turned his passion into a business.