by Lexi Reese
I’ve had a chance to listen to many pitches by founders asking for investment over the last year. I have also seen some incredible investors and founders in action whom I respect a ton. I am no Investment expert, but below is what I’ve learned about how to structure a great 30 minute zoom pitch if you’re a creator / founder trying to get funding.
First, it’s usually 20 minutes when everyone arrives, takes themselves off mute, does the “whoops - give me a sec to let the dog out” thing. Second, come off mute and ask others to do the same. Third, the time goes fast and if you’re not super intentional about how to use it, it will be a nothing burger (i.e. - nothing happens as a result of the connection). You want to plan it like a great actor/actress. You practice and prepare so much, it feels totally natural to the listener/viewer, as if you have not rehearsed at all. A “run of show” can look something like this and, as always in great show biz, leave them wanting more:
Killer Intro <No more than 5 mins>: Do your research and know who you’re talking to so intro section is short and sweet and captivates attention.
“Hi X & Y person - excited to talk. Have read a lot about you and the firm and learned 1, 2, 3 things that are relevant to our work/me. I’m ___, X background (30 seconds). In next X minutes, I’d love to [state your goal ... share about ourselves and get your pulse on whether you might be interested in partnering or ___?]. I was thinking the structure of the convo could be brief intros, I can walk through our company (who we sell to, what we sell them, how we sell and service them, why we think we’ll win and what winning looks like, a bit about me and our team, and what we are looking for in a partner) so you have a feel for what we do, how we do it, and why we believe we’ll win in our market. I should be able to do that in about 10 minutes. Then we’ll have 5 mins for questions and next steps, but of course pls stop me and ask for clarification on anything as we go. Sound good? ”
7 Point Pitch with 5 mins of question time baked in <15 mins> - practice your answers to below so you can really get through these in 10 mins (not by talking fast, but by getting to the essence quickly). Pause to to take 1 - 2 questions between point 6 and point 7 and then close.
Things that don’t help the pitch:
when you don’t have answers to the above or you try to make them up on the fly. if you don’t have a clear answer to any of the above and that’s what you’re using the potential funding to find, just say that. when you say “I don’t have competitors” ... there are people in the world doing something in the space you’re entering and you’re not there yet or not there yet as much as you’d like to be; so you’re at the very minimum competing for their time and dollars which they’ll give you instead of something / someone else. know that something/someone and be real about what it will take to break into the conversation and get people to pay you a lot and more over time. filler phrases and metaphors - 1) “we’re the tik tok, the uber ,the stripe” <just be you and if you’re answers above are clear ... let the investor make the right comparison in their head>, 2) “it’s a single pane” <i cannot tell you how many times I have heard we’re a single pane ... it’s one of those expressions that seems to have trended and now does not hold too much meaning>, 3) “we’re just being first principles” <who, i always want to ask, claims to be second principles? ... and isn’t being first principles the same as being a good problem solver?”, 4) “we’re not really looking for investment” (investors invest money, time, talent ... so if you are indeed not looking for money now, but wanting to build a longer term relationship because investing is like marriage and you want to have many first dates ... say that), 5) “let’s open the kimono” (hmmmm .... let’s not. ever.)
Last and most important: go you and your team! For creating something. For putting it out in the world. I hope you are solving some big problems that make life better for others and our planet. We need that kind of innovation. Don’t be discouraged by NOs. If you’re motivated and have great conviction on answers above, use the NOs to sharpen your story, but not get deflated.
If this template helps you, I’m happy to have helped a bit. If you have thoughts on how to make this better, shoot me a note.