Pitching your startup business in San Francisco
Pitching your startup to investors or customers is not an easy task, especially in Silicon Valley where numerous pitching events and startup competitions are held on a weekly basis.
To make your pitch look and sound better it takes a lot of practice and adjustments. There are a few rules you need to pay attention to:
- know who you're pitching to
- set up goals for your pitch
- make your pitch deck simple (reduce the text and slide number to a minimum)
- practice your (elevator, 2, 3 or 5 minutes) pitch
- get ready to be kicked around (Q&A)
It seems easier than it is but, believe me, pitching is not an easy task. Especially to foreigners whose native language is not English and to those who naturally tend to get overwhelmed by the moment. If you're a founder, the stage is something you really need to get used to. That's why I'm always suggesting founders to go out and pitch whenever they can. That's the only way you'll get used to the (uncomfortable) situation.
Here You can check out Part of my recent pitch in San Francisco. It's still far from perfect but, believe me, it's much better than the one I started with.
And yes, your pitch will rarely be perfect but, with every time you pitch, you'll improve and you'll learn what people are expecting to hear from you. One of the best ways to improve your pitching skills is to hear people pitching better than you. That's why you shouldn't be afraid to apply for the pitching events even though you're aware your pitching skills are not the best. Be brave and go for it!
Some founders find Q&A session, which usually happens after the pitch, less important than the pitch itself but that's very wrong. After you do your pitch certain number of times, you'll feel comfortable pitching it whenever and wherever but to answer the questions you'll get after the pitch and to answer them the right way is something that is even more important.
3 easy rules:
1. always be honest
People will ask you about your traction and other specific numbers which are sometimes hard to remember and that's why it's always the best thing to provide honest answers. Honesty is something you can always count on even if the situation is stressful. Founders who tend to fake numbers and other info need to remember those and, believe me, in a stressful situation, it can easily become obvious when somebody is laying.
2. never get defensive (or offensive)
Investors and other business experts will question every word you said during your pitch so be ready for it. Being ready doesn't mean to provide the best possible answer or explanation but to stay calm even if it seems like you don't have the right answers. Those who tend to get into arguing with experts usually lose. In the end, aggression sends bad signals and people will think something's wrong with you.
3. go out an learn
Again, if you don't go out to the events and practice, you won't imporve much. You may think you understand about your business everything but you can never anticipate all the questions you'll be asked from a variety of people. Only if you go out and learn what about people are interested in your business, you'll provide them with the best possible answers.
Vedran Vukman, CEO @ Vyoocam