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10 No-Nos for Startup Pitches

Pitches Gone Wild: What NOT to Do When You Pitch Your Startup to Investors

The Don'ts of Pitching to Investors

So you think you’re ready to pitch your startup to potential investors. (Maybe you’re even applying for Launch KC? Or perhaps you have your eye on BetaBlox Demo Day?)

Hold up. Before you polish off that slide deck, heed some caveats from the folks who’ve just about seen (or suffered) it all—and have definitely seen pitches gone wild, awry and downright wrong.

Below, some of our besties over at the Digital Sandbox KC and UMKC SBTDC share what I’ll call “untips”: those things you want to avoid when you’re pitching your idea or your company.

Remember: this is your list of what NOT to do. As in: Don’t. Stop. Cease and desist.

Don’t practice.

Too many people. Too few slides. Too much time on the product and not enough time on the business. These are doom-makers.

Practice your pitch out loud to get a feel for the actual use of time. The pace of events in your head is different than out loud. Also, if possible, have someone who does not love you listen to your pitch out loud to ensure you don’t have any weird verbal habits. For example, saying, “I want you to think about this…” a million times or saying “Ummmm” a lot.

Include as many entrepreneurs as possible in your pitch presentation.

Too many entrepreneurs spoil the pitch. Create a tight and clear presentation.

Talk down to the panel.

Spoilers: It’s a huge turnoff when the entrepreneur says, “Let me dumb this down for you.”

Argue in front of the investor panel.

This. Actually. Happens.

Be totes cazh, man.

Love your confidence, but it’s not a slam dunk. Be friendly, open, but don’t come across as too casual cocky.

Read your slides.

Not a going on a limb here. I think we all know investors can read.

Overwhelm them with your research.

Remember why you’re pitching and what investors actually want to hear, that is, “How will this make me money.” Go beyond the cool idea to get to the solid business model. In a 10-minute pitch, give the background and move on. Investors will ask if they want more.

Be unprepared with your financials.

No matter how good the widget, without knowing your numbers, you don’t seem credible. Understand your business model. Be able to explain your projections and how you get there. In the end, you MUST have a viable business model and be able to tell investors how you will make money.

Be unprepared in general.

Worst happens. Be prepared if they projector doesn’t work, you can’t get your demo to load, or your PowerPoint blows up. Skip the demo (too often it doesn’t work) and be able to pitch without slides.

Don’t know your business.

Here’s what you don’t want to happen: you get to the last slide and the investor panel still has no idea what your product is.

Many entrepreneurs spend way too much talking to trends and numbers, without telling investors specifically what the product is going to do in that space. Work past your product idea to help investors understand why they should fund it.

It’s worth repeating: It still has to be a business at the end of the day – not just an idea that sounds cool.

Need more tips?

Check out these Resource Partner events and opportunities near you to preview, practice and perfect your pitch.

Seen your share of wild pitches? Share a few of your Dos and Don’ts.


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