Jonathan Littman and Susanna Camp
You may be surprised to hear it, but there’s never been a better time to pitch your startup. And for that, you can thank the pandemic.
Entrepreneurship is being driven by massive layoffs and the realization by savvy business people and mature corporate veterans that the crisis also offers opportunities. Nimble startups and new ventures are seizing upon once-in-a-generation changes in trends and consumer habits with extraordinary potential.
As authors of the new book on successful startups, “The Entrepreneur’s Faces,” we’ve found that the need for social distancing has shifted pitches to Zoom, /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM -5.32% a great democratizer for entrepreneurs of all ages . So, it’s easier than ever to get an audience for your pitch, if you’re looking for money.
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The wave of digital pitching has been fruitful for older and younger founders alike, first-timers and serial entrepreneurs. But founders in their 50s and 60s often bring extra talents: the ability to extensively research and prepare and the maturity to understand that pitching is about building a relationship.
The key to a successful pitch these days is to follow a few simple rules:
Be transparent about your purpose. Don’t play a bait-and-switch game (like asking a prospective funder to connect on LinkedIn and then later hitting up the person with a pitch).
The first outreach on LinkedIn is simply to see if the person or his or her institution might be interested in a one- to two-page overview of your startup or a mini-teaser slide deck.
Know who you are pitching. Remarkably, most founders fly blind.
“A lot of founders don’t do any homework. They don’t know anything about the investors they’re meeting. What they’ve published or said online,” says Nuno Gonçalves Pedro, founder and managing partner of Strive Capital venture fund.
Preparation enables you to target what a lender or investor cares most about, and forges an immediate, emotional connection in those first, awkward moments.
Set yourself up to deliver a winning video pitch. Decent lighting is key. Invest in an inexpensive ring light to light your face evenly.
Also, raise your computer to face level.
Make sure you have a professional office background, too.
During your presentation, be ready to switch from your slide deck to launch a demo or to share documents.