10 things to know before you pitch a VC for Money
David Rose is a serial entrepreneur and serial investor, a leader in the New York City angel network, and the founder of AngelSoft, the de facto standard software system for angel groups all across the country. In this 18-minute talk at TED in 2008 David lays down the law for how to pitch to investors.
David is not a shy person, and he talks real fast (this is only a little faster than his normal speaking voice). But he knows what he’s talking about. This is a high-powered version of the things I hear investors say all the time. I agree with (almost) everything he says.
The only problem is that in 18 minutes he can outline only the high principles, the big-concept do’s and don’t’s. He says very little about the nuts and bolts of how to build a presentation that would meet his high standards. It all sounds good but, you ask, “now what do I do?” Well, that’s what BizClarity is here for. In my coaching, workshops, and writings, I turn investor imperatives, like those David lists here, into practical advice.
But I’m no match for his authority and intensity. Take a look:
(If you have trouble viewing this here, you can go directly to the YouTube page by clicking here.)
I’ll say more about these ideas in later posts. But I do want to call out David’s advice about what to put on slides:
- Good: short bullets
- Better: headlines only
- Best: images only
This is really exciting. Here’s a veteran venture investor urging entrepreneurs to use images only in their slides. That’s a ringing endorsement of the Presentation Zen style I’ teach to anybody who will listen.
But, a warning is in order. Don’t take David’s advice too literally. Don’t try to pitch investors with only images. You’ll lose credibility if you don’t show some hard facts and numbers. I’ve seen it happen.
The solution is a sophisticated matching of form to content. Discriminate when images, or bullets, or a graph or table are the best way to make a point. Each has its place and function. Generally, the first half of an investor presentation–where you’re describing the customer problem, the market, “how it’s done now,” your solution–can be mostly images and little text. But when you get into describing the business–marketing plans, milestones, revenue and financial projections–images are less useful and can be cheezy if forced. Like showing photos of piles of money to dress up the financial projections slide.
By the way, TED Talks, if you haven’t heard of it before, is a premier venue for thought leaders from any and all fields. It’s an annual conference that features 18-minute presentations. But thanks to TED Talk videos spreading virally over the Internet, it’s become a major franchise of new ideas and inspiring presentations. It’s a real coup for David Rose to be invited to speak there–which attests to his authority in the field.