Welcome to the first pitch in my three-part series on pitching for a VC fund. If you’re already familiar with this format and would like more info, please do check out part two. Thank you! 🙂
One of the things that distinguishes me as a leader is the way I handle introductions and introduce myself to others. My elevator pitch has been my guiding principle. It provides an opportunity to create a positive first impression and then be transparent and honest about what kind of opportunities we could provide. Here’s how it works…
This one can vary based upon your industry and position but typically involves something similar to “hi, I’m Kevin O’Leary. Please tell me everything I need to know about your company/product/business. What excites you about working at such and such place? Where did your previous jobs come from? How big is your team in terms of revenue, both now and over time? And what makes this venture unique?”
Why do you want to bring new people on board? Do you have any specific concerns regarding existing employees or teams? For example, are there potential conflicts that might arise between individuals new to each other, where they may feel unsure about speaking up if something were to go south? Some companies can’t afford to fire their employees (let alone find them replacements). Why do you think so? This conversation should proceed without judgment, critique, or condemnation from whoever is participating. Give it time, give yourself some space to process your thoughts and then respond accordingly. Often times, this initial introduction will lead to someone asking questions about what they can expect with the deal or whether they can afford to take the position. In either case, we welcome anyone who wants to present themselves in a professional manner. After all, everyone is looking forward to hearing our story, which means we might want to let ourselves tell it.
When presenting, it’s important to have transparency. Let us know when you plan on taking action. For example, during Q&A sessions, it is good to indicate in advance who is going to participate how and why. We also appreciate the value of having those kinds of conversations early on and often. You don’t want to wait until later, then have to re-evaluate your decision to pursue an investment again. Once we’ve made our decision, don’t hesitate to share whether the meeting was productive or not. Asking and answering questions is a key component to being proactive rather than reactive. We appreciate that you’ve given us some information, which we can use as we make decisions.
We appreciate the fact that an offer comes from someone you admire, even if you didn’t ask for it directly. However, it is worth noting that most investors and entrepreneurs seek opportunities that will lead to an immediate return. Be clear whether this includes returns immediately, or you can generate future benefits for a particular cause/outline. Remember, if you are seeking funding, you don’t want to invest in people who may say, “I can’t believe you’ve picked X company. There are so many reasons why I’m interested. I have zero incentive to invest in you.” At least with these investments, you know exactly what your role is.
In addition to telling us what you’re seeking, don’t forget to mention why we should choose you as a partner. Being able to articulate your values and mission is important when starting out. People love validation because it creates a sense of comfort in pursuing their dreams. Ultimately, you’ll want to convince us why our vision aligns with yours and what your strengths are that make you a great fit and who your ideal customer is.
Let’s start by getting comfortable, and hopefully you’re excited to join our firm.