Seven Tips and Tricks That Will Help You Nail Your Startup Pitch To Investors Pitching ideas is an important skill that an entrepreneur should have, be it to investors or to potential employees

By S Shanthi

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Did you know that venture capitalists (VCs) hold 500-1000 meetings with startup founders in a year? Did you know that a founder has to sometimes wait for six months to one year to even grab her or his first pitch meeting?

Today, with Shark Tank India, startup pitching has become a dinner table conversation, with family members across age groups analyzing every pitch.

However, is it as simple as what meets the eye?

In one of the media interviews, Anupam Mittal, founder of and an angel investor even spoke about how every pitch takes an hour or so and only a part of it is aired on television.

Even though Shark Tank India pitches include the shooting aspect as well, a pitch without cameras can also be nerve-wracking. You may have the best idea that could change the world. But if you fail to make an impression during the pitch, all those efforts may go down the drain. In fact, startup experts often talk about how knowing how to pitch is one of the biggest skills an entrepreneur can have, be it to investors or to potential employees.

Here are some tips on how you can make your startup pitch a success story.

Tell a story

Stories don't just work with children. Stories are great conversation and presentation starters. In a startup pitch, sharing your story, but a true story is very important. Every great business is built on a life experience or a belief. So, share your story with the investors in an effective and interesting way that grabs their attention immediately and builds that trust in you and the purpose of your startup. But, avoid boring them with unnecessary information.

Focus on 5Ws and 1H

Once you have grabbed the attention of investors with your story, you should get to pitch. Your pitch deck should summarize the 5Ws and 1H and there lies your perfect pitch.

What: What is the problem you are solving? What is your product or service?

Why: What is the reason behind this business idea? Is there a personal story? Why do you care?

Who: What is your target consumer? Who will be on your team?

Where: Geographies or industries where your products or services will cater to?

When: How long will it take for your launch, achieve scale etc?

How: How do you plan to achieve your targets in near future and in the long-term?

Keep the number of slides limited

While the above information is very important, it has to be crisp. The maximum time you may have to pitch your startup will be an hour. So, too many slides can be exhausting and boring. Detailed information can be provided later. Keep it simple yet effective. This is not a college or an office presentation. Investors have packed schedules, so it is important to ensure their time is not wasted unnecessarily. Slides anyway are passe. Use it only to convey the most important information.

Back it up with data

Data is the most crucial determining factor that helps investors make decisions faster. From target addressable market (TAM), size of your team, customers you have acquired so far and customer acquisition cost to gross margin and revenue you expect, data should be at your fingertips. Even the minutest of details should not be missed. Lastly, have as much data as possible about the segment you are in, including your competitors.

Know your investor

Know everything about your investor. This includes startups they have invested in, how their investment journey started, and what their core values are, among others. Once you list out the startups they have invested in, see if there is a pattern, is there something that makes them say yes? Check with others in the startup ecosystem about the kinds of questions they ask. Avoid searching on the internet, go out and network. You will find many others who would have pitched to the same investors. Lastly, don't show your bias to particular investors. Be open to investment that comes from anyone.

Be honest

Knowing your investor doesn't mean tweaking your facts to please a particular investor or to grab a huge valuation. Be honest with your numbers, purpose and vision. Do not hide any key information from your investors. Remember that they meet many founders on a day-to-day basis. Within minutes they will know that you are lying. And, trust once broken can never be built again. Even if it is a small lie, investors will not be able to trust you, for trust in entrepreneurs is the most important aspect of startup investing.

Practice to gain confidence

Be confident and respectful. The only way you can gain confidence is by practicing. Yes, you read it right. Before every pitch, practice as much as you can. Remember the school's annual day when you would spend a month or so practicing for D-day! This is something similar, albeit in a real-life scenario. So, have mock sessions in front of family and friends. Stay calm on the pitch day. Soothe your nerves by using whatever method that works for you. Remember, it is not the end of the world.

S Shanthi

Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 


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