As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Once more, with feeling…Pitching to investors

One mountain down. The next one looms large!

I will never be the author of a piece on “How to Successfully Raise Start-up Capital.”  That’s because the dirty reality is that the fund-raising process is more about rejection, failure, and persistence than success.  I liken it to doggedly looking for a cure for a mysterious ailment.  It doesn’t matter how many doctors you meet.  It only matters that you find the right one.  Until then, all the blind alleys are just blind alleys and wasted time.
Same with fundraising.  You might learn a little bit from all the rejections, but I still contend– after hearing many more “No’s” than “Yes’s”–that you learn more by running your business than talking about it.

However I did learn a lot about pitching ideas to tough audiences.  Here’s the biggest lesson learned:  Claim Your Vision.  At the start of our fund-raising, I gave a more “analytical/bottoms up” pitch than I did at the end.  Why?  Because of one pivotal meeting.  In that meeting, I blurted out the thing I had never said to a potential investor:

I want to change the world.

I went on to explain my vision to disrupt how consumer products (that form 65% of our economy) get discovered and distributed. The investor later  said it gave him chills and that it was the best moment of the meeting. His sharing that personal response made me all the more confident to frame the vision as big as I see it.

After a subsequent (successful) pitch an investor told me, “You are an artist.  That was one of the best presentations I have heard.  It was so dynamic, power-packed and optimistic.”

The reality is I am kind of soft-spoken, and a little too conceptual and understated to be typically described that way.  But when it comes to my business I AM fierce and fearless.    And I think any good investor wants to see that more than the best Power Point on Earth.

3 Responses to “Once more, with feeling…Pitching to investors”

  1. Dan Weinreb

    Absolutely! At my angel investing group, I’ve heard a lot of pitches and heard a lot of reactions. Investors (at least some of them) want to see a lot of enthusiasm, and are put off otherwise. They want to see that you really care, and get the feeling that you’ll be very dedicated and motivated and will work very hard because you love it. In fact, “Dynamic, power-packed, and optimistic” is a pretty good description.

    This can definitely be a problem for people who are soft-spoken by nature. What can I say? Life isn’t fair. If it’s not natural to you, learn it somehow. You don’t have to be loud, but you do have to be optimistic and enthusiastic.


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