The Investor as Visual Learner For maximum impact and interest, give potential investors something to play with.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As a venture capitalist, I get pitched daily by entrepreneurs looking for financing for their companies. The pitches come in many forms, ranging from random e-mails to introductions from other people I know to formal presentations from entrepreneurs I've worked with in the past. I take them all seriously and try to respond quickly regardless of their quality or whatever else I'm working on.
I'm often asked what the best way to present to me is. I have a simple answer, which is the same as the common advice to writers: "Show, don't tell." I want to understand your product and your vision, but rather than have you explain this to me, I want to experience it myself. If it's something I can play with, I want to use it. If it's not built yet, I want to try to visualize it. I don't want you to explain it to me or guide me through it--I want to get down and dirty with it. I know it'll be rough, won't work properly, will have bugs and will have a long way to go. That's fine--I'll apply the appropriate lens to it. But if you are brave enough to let me have at it, I'll understand it better and be able to tell if it's something I'm interested in much faster.
Since I only invest in software and Internet companies, the "show, don't tell" mantra is easier to apply, but I think it works for any situation. Are you an entrepreneur working on a new restaurant concept? Show me the menu, the layout of the restaurant and photos of some of your signature dishes. Are you creating a new retail store concept? Show me examples of the products and how you will promote them. Are you building a company to produce a new electric engine for heavy farm equipment? Show me the design specs along with real data about the difference in performance between your machine and things that currently exist in the world.