When pitching your startup to a potential venture investor, you typically only have one hour to put your best foot forward. It’s important that you use your time well, and take pains to avoid a few common presentation pitfalls that will, at best, distract your audience, or worse, deter them entirely from your ultimate mission of raising millions for your company.
I’ve been on the other side of the table enough times now to have picked up a few pitch meeting Do’s and Don’ts. With an aim toward helping more founders improve their odds of success, I’ve assembled *my personal list of things you want to avoid saying in a pitch meeting.*
*Top 10 Pitch Meeting Conversation Stoppers*:
*10. “My projections are conservative.”*
Since no one can predict the future, avoid sounding defensive. Instead,
clearly spell out your assumptions, and let the numbers speak for
*9. “I’d be happy to talk about our company as soon as you sign this
Most venture investors won’t sign NDAs. You can try to engage a VC in a
long conversation about the subject, but chances are it’s not going to
go anywhere. Do some research. If you have any doubts about a firm’s
integrity, look for another VC.
*8. “I’ll get to that later in my presentation.”*
Just answer the question. A pitch is a dialogue, not a lecture.
Besides, you’re fighting human nature. The VC is going to spend the next couple
of minutes thinking about why you won’t answer the question, not what
you are presenting.
*7. “I’d like you to meet Bill and Henry and Suzanne and Arnold and
Too many team members suck the air out of a room. Also, bringing a
gaggle of executives makes me think, “What do all of these people
actually do that they can afford to attend these meetings?” Bring one
other person max.
*6. “We plan to join the venture on funding.”*
As unfair as this may seem, investors like to see that team members
have made a real commitment to the venture. While holding on to your day job
isn’t a deal-killer, it does undermine the urgency of the pitch.
*5. “This funding will last 12 months until we raise our next
While it may be relatively easy to raise financing today, nobody knows
what the investment environment will be like in six months. Raise
enough money so that you have at least two years of runway in a downside
*4. “We have a virtual team.”*
Farflung teams are sometimes successful, but they are the exception,
not the rule. It’s very difficult to get anything done if the CTO is going
to bed when the CEO is just waking up.
*3. “We don’t have any competition.”*
If there is no other company in your space, it’s probably not a very
attractive niche. Find a competitor – any competitor – and put it on
your competition slide.
*2. “We have a friend who has friend who knows [Om Malik, Michael
Arrington, Matt Marshall].”*
It’s great that you’re connected, but PR can backfire on companies just
as easily as it can propel them forward. Focus on the business, and let
your products do the talking.
…_and finally, the #1 thing you’ll want to avoid saying in a VC pitch meeting:
*1. “You’ve heard of Web 2.0? We are Web 3.0.”*
Just don’t say it.