We believe that pitching is not an easy task, even for experienced entrepreneurs. But for first-time entrepreneurs the feeling may be similar to a roller coaster trip, in which there is a mixture of enthusiasm, nervousness, adrenaline and in the end a certain feeling of pride for having achieved and not giving up in the entry line.
It is true. Raising capital from investors is an art that we want to help you master. This requires a good pitch deck, of course. However, it is also necessary to pay attention to other aspects, especially now when the pitches have been converted to online.
Since March of last year - when the pandemic started to worsen in Europe and in the World - the BGI team has witnessed numerous pitches online. And we came to the conclusion that there is a pattern of small mistakes made by the entrepreneurs. We know that the opportunity to finally reach an investor is very important and entrepreneurs want to exclude all chances of failure. But virtually, things can become more difficult and more stressful. Either it is not possible to share the computer screen, or the screen freezes, or the WiFi goes down, or someone interrupts the pitch with background noise, or several seconds after the pitch starts someone says the most common phrase recently: "You're muted".
Nevertheless, it is precisely in solving problems that we recognize good entrepreneurs and today we have compiled a list of the 7 most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs while pitching online, together with 7 tips for improving future pitches.
Mistake #1: No homework done
It is important that you do your homework before the pitching session. In other words, you should study all the topics that you are going to cover, check information about the investors in the meeting, or even study the video call platform before the pitching session, to avoid possible inconveniences and constraints. Homework is mandatory, as it will prepare you for any questions and keep you informed about current market participants, which shows some smart positioning. In addition, homework involves rehearsing your pitch in front of a friendly audience that can provide you with constructive ideas so that you can improve.
Mistake #2: Forgetting the appearance
In the absence of a face-to-face meeting, the least we can do to have a closer and personal contact is to keep the camera on. Our non-verbal speech is just as important as verbal, and this will enable greater empathy. However, make sure you have a good background, without any distraction, mess or anything else that creates a bad image. Also, keep the camera well positioned in a good light and make sure that you are audible. If we can't understand you, you just missed your opportunity. The appearance also applies to you. Dress appropriately for important meetings. First impression is still a thing.
Mistake #3: Not adapting the content and tone of the speech to the audience
Once again we emphasize the role of homework and prior preparation. Investors should feel special with a dedicated presentation showing that you've done your homework and you know who you are addressing the speech to. A small personal note - some information about the investor's portfolio, for example - can demonstrate that you are really on the subject and paying attention to the person on the other side of the screen. Listen to interviews, read articles, add the person you are meeting on LinkedIn... You must be ready for the meeting, regardless of whether you are pitching online or offline.
Mistake #4: Extensive pitch, little catchy and without storyline
Storytelling is a good way to captivate the audience. That is why it is used in presentations, in advertising, and in many situations where we want to attract attention or convince someone... This is because we like stories. Pitch is also a narrative that involves the audience for a successful ending, showing the challenges, the solutions, the heroes, the followers. Thus, it must be succinct and appealing, otherwise the public will lose interest. In addition, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of talking too much, creating a monologue. It is important to give space for the other party to speak. Don't expect questions to always be asked in the end.
Mistake #5: Poorly made pitch decks
We know that both pitch and pitch deck must mention the problem, the market, the solution, the competitors, the prices, the business model, the history, the team... We want to convey the idea of a great market opportunity with a great team tackling a real problem with an incredible and different solution.
However, some decks are boring. The result? Investors hear, but don't listen. You are unable to transmit the desired message. So, avoid too many slides, too much information, the lack of images of emotional attachment. Motion is also welcome and designs count more than ever. You need to be the "purple cow" to get people's attention.
Mistake #6: Overconfidence
"I am the guru of the best ideas". This mindset sometimes restricts your visibility to the same or better ideas already in the market. It’s good to have confidence in ourselves and in our idea. Otherwise, how would you give investors a security image? However, we must also recognize our weaknesses, instead of hiding them or misleading investors with unrealistic projections. Remember: dream big, but don't try to create illusions with experienced investors.
Mistake #7: No follow-up
Not following up is a common mistake, both online and offline. Always follow-up with a page explaining what you are, what you sell and how you make money. Don't forget to include the link to your website, the link to the full presentation, or possibly to a demo video. It’s an unmissable moment. In addition, provide and ask for the investor's phone number for follow-up. Emails are crazy nowadays and sometimes they get lost in the inbox.
These are the observations we have made over the past few months on the performance of some of the field players. Many of them are the result of poor prior preparation, but we hope that our tips will be useful and inspiring to follow.
Do you want to know more about how you can improve the way investors see your business? How about letting the investors themselves tell you how you can do that? Find out more here.
Fight for visibility, plan and prepare, bid, defend, negotiate ... collect! - Pritesh Kotecha, CMO at BGI
Also read: 4 simple tips to improve your LinkedIn page