Sangat Pedas

How To (Not) Pitch Your Startup


Wigged Startup PitchLaunching an Internet startup is a pretty daunting task and at some point most startups need to raise money to finance infrastructural investments, marketing and growing operating cost. That’s the point where entrepreneurs need to pitch their startup to investors and you know how VC can be to startups. This means that entrepreneurs have to come out of their coffee and cigarette fueled comfort zone and that’s hard.

But no worries, we’ve got it covered with the most essential tips you should follow to ensure you to leave mind blowing impression and cash the much needed $$$. Sangat Pedas style, polite, respectful and non-confrontational.

Don’t wear a wig, really don’t!
Yes, this is a serious post and a serious point. If you have a 60 second pitch and everyone is focussing on your wig and placing bets whether it will fall off no one will pay attention to your pitch. The wig is just one example of more kinds of other distracting accessories or a cleavage which is showing too much. Make sure the focus of your audience is on your pitch!

Explain what problem your product solves.
If your product/service doesn’t solve a problem then why would people use it? Start your pitch with this since it’s the essence of your company and makes the rest of your pitch all the more clear.

Just don’t call yourself CEO when you run a 3 men band.
I’ve run some companies but never have I called myself CEO, especially not when it’s just a 4 man company. Originally a CEO is appointed by the board so actually when your startup doesn’t have a board the title is somewhat overshooting it. Now there are no legal restraints for using the title CEO but it can give a wrong signal and feels like the title has to compensate for the person behind it.

Please don’t tell your business model is advertising.
No problem if you haven’t completely figured out your business model but just say so. You will portrait more vision when just admitting you haven’t completely figured out your business model than claiming advertising will be the financial foundation of your company.

Duuuh you might think. Well, I’ve seen many pitches where the entrepreneur didn’t show any visuals or a demo of the actual app or service. For VC’s that’s almost the same like dating in the blind. It’s so simple and has more value than the words you produce in those 60 seconds. Not showing your product leaves you without a chance of striking an investment.

Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
Not many people are natural talents in public speaking and presenting. A group of VC can be quite intimidating and adding to the pressure and nerves. So make sure you rehearse your pitch till you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night pitching your idea to your sleeping wife.

Share key metrics.
When did you launch? How many members do you have? How many transactions were done? What are the past growth numbers and future projections? What traction is your startup showing? What about past and future financials? VC tend to like numbers so stay one step ahead and share because they will surely ask.

Get to the point straight away.
VC are just like ordinary human beings, they get to tend bored pretty quickly. They must listen to hundreds of pitches so cut the chit-chat and get to the point. It will keep their attention and leave a professional impression.

Be enthusiastic.
Rule #1 in sales. Your selling something and if you don’t show any enthusiasm how can you expect the investor to become enthusiastic? Nothing wrong with using words like “awesome” and “cool” to emphasize your enthusiasm about your company and product.

Keep it plain and simple.
Simple logics, if you need to use difficult words and a long explanation your product must be complicated. VC’s usually shy away from complicated solutions, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Talk about your team in the pitch.
My good friend Aulia from Dailysocial wrote an excellent post on the importance of a great idea. But as I claimed in my Dailysocial bash post, ideas can and will be copied, teams can’t be copied. Good teams have the power to turn something bad into something good. Good teams will survive any idea and are the most valuable asset of your company. Make sure you address your team, the competences, skills and experiences. It just might be a game changer for your pitch.

Let someone check your spelling and grammar.
Especially when your not pitching in your native language let someone check your slides on grammar and spelling mistakes. In one of the videos linked to below you see a final presentation screen saying “Tank you”. It’s really easy to avoid mistakes like this and not doing so just leaves an unprofessional impression with your audience.

Know your competitors.
Pretty much any startup has competitors. Make sure you know them, are familiar with their strategy, strong points, weak points and KPI’s. Any investor will want to know why you will do better then them.

Prepare for hard questions.
How? Trial pitch your startup to more experienced entrepreneurs and see what questions they come up with. Also sites like linkedin allow you to connect with professionals in the market who are often more than willing to lend a helping hand.

Listen to what an investor has to say.
Nothing wrong with being passionate about and stand for your product. However, if an experienced investor points out weak points it might hurt but don’t automatically fall for the “defense” trap. You show more strength when admitting the weakness than being stubborn and basically claiming the investor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Believe me, I’ve been there and it just doesn’t work in your advantage.

Check as many pitches from other entrepreneurs as you can.
There are enough pitch videos available on Youtube like Mobile App Startup Pitches at Ultra Light TV part 1 and part 2 or the TCF (TechCrunch French) Recipes Pitches. Especially the last one is interesting since it provides a lot of questions and comments from the jury. Learn what to do and what not to do.

  • Okto Silaban

    “Please don’t tell your business model is advertising.”
    What’s wrong with that? Didn’t Google business model is advertising? So does Facebook, Detik, Kaskus, Twitter (promoted tweet, promoted hashtag), Yahoo, etc..


    • remco

      Hi Okto, great question but long answer so I will write a post about the topic. Stay tuned and thanks for your comment

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