The Key to a Powerful Pitch
Article by Lisa Elia, Investor Pitch Coach, Media & Presentation Trainer
Preparing to pitch to investors can elicit a mix of excitement, fear and confusion. Getting clear on what investors want, gaining a deep understanding of the details of your business, and creating some new habits will help you to deliver the best investor pitch you can make.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing entrepreneurs in my business and as a volunteer coach for Women Founders Network’s Fast Pitch competition.
Over the past three years, the people I have coached for WFN have all ended up in the winner’s circle: Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of the innovative tea company, Tea Drops, who won first place in 2017; Sabena Suri, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the gifting company, Box Fox, won second place in 2018; and Paris Sabo, MD, Co-founder and COO of the natural oral care company, Dr. Brite, won third place in 2019.
While their companies and offerings differed greatly from one another, there are several things these three women had in common and several things we did in our work together.
That being said, here is some advice you can use to achieve similar success with your investor pitches.
Embody the 4 Ps
Be Passionate, Problem-Solving, Prepared and Perseverant
An entrepreneur who embodies the 4 Ps will not only impress investors but is also more likely to succeed in almost any endeavor.
As my client, you go through an extensive preparation process to assemble a pitch deck, refine your pitching technique and work with a potential financier. Driving yourself to get through these essential steps takes dedication and genuine passion for your concept, which is exactly what investors will expect to see during your actual business pitch.
Your ability to solve problems will be thoroughly tested throughout the process of preparing for investor pitches, as well as your business in general. If you’re not naturally a person who sees obstacles as opportunities, this is the time to focus on shifting your mindset.
Investors like to learn how your mind works, and talking about certain aspects of your business model gives you an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills.
Preparation is the key to a great investor pitch!
In my work with Sashee, Sabena and Paris, we worked on everything from their investor decks, word choices and nonverbal communication to responses to typical and challenging questions investors might ask. Each of these women stuck with it and did the work they needed to do, which leads to the final “P”.
Perseverance is essential in business. You will inevitably face challenges as you prepare to pitch to investors and throughout the fundraising process, and your ability to keep going is necessary for success.
Know Your Numbers Inside and Out
Investors will expect you to “know your numbers”, such as your cost of goods, profit margins, customer acquisition cost, burn rate, and more. If you have ever watched ABC TV’s Shark Tank or attended Women Founders Network’s Dolphin Tank or Fast Pitch events, you will hear the same questions asked over and over again.
If you take a step back and look at your business the way an investor would, you will feel clearer on how important the numbers of your business are in helping them to make a defensible investment decision.
In working with Sashee, Sabena and Paris, each of them worked diligently to find the answers to my questions about certain numbers that were important in telling the stories of their respective businesses.
Stay True to Yourself and Your Brand
As you look around and see what other successful entrepreneurs are doing, it’s easy to think copying them will let you achieve the same results they have. In reality, it is not that simple.
It is important to polish your presentation skills. However, if you stray too far from your natural way of communicating, you will probably feel extra nervous and appear stilted or inauthentic.
Sashee, Sabena and Paris did exceedingly well at mastering their material, so they could deliver it naturally and with heart. I believe this is part of what led to their success in the competition and subsequent endeavors.
Develop and Educate Yourself Constantly
Continually refine your presentation skills so you will be ready for the next opportunity. After our work together with WFN’s Fast Pitch, Sashee worked with me to prepare her for the Tory Burch Foundation competition where she won first place and $100,000, and appearances on HSN where her product sold out.
One thing I tell all of my clients is to read and watch the news regularly. Then, consider how world events or changes in your industry could affect your business and how you can adapt or even thrive as a result of current events. If you want to become great at pitching to investors, read and listen to podcasts about pitching to investors, business and your industry. Become an expert in your field, if you’re not already.
All of these actions will leave you better informed, more confident, and more insightful about your business and the world of pitching to investors.
Investor Pitch Coach, Media & Presentation Trainer
Lisa Elia is an investor pitch coach, media trainer and presentation trainer who has coached clients to raise millions of dollars at all stages of investment, including IPOs. She has volunteered as a pitch coach for WFN’s Fast Pitch competition and donates time to other organizations that empower entrepreneurs. She brings experience gained during decades of working as a high-level publicist and has spoken to thousands of audiences over the years.
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