Fortunately, I have experience in Startups and I’ve attended every pitch event you can imagine, StartCon, Capital Pitch, Tech Ready Program, Pollenizer (when it was running) and Blue Chilli to name a few.
Ideas need to be commercial to work. Because frankly, no one will pay to run a bad idea!
I’ve been working with startups for about 3 years but I have extensive professional services and life experience. So, I can sometimes tell what will fly and what fails (tip some of it comes down to the founder and the team!).
Moving clients away from poorly thought out ideas or pitches is challenging. Because they’re emotionally invested in the idea.
You don’t want to be a dream crusher, so diplomacy is key – you want them to continue on with their passion and when they pitch in person to a VC you want them to be super excited.
If you’re thinking of pitching to VCs in the US here are some pointers:
The idea started because the Microsoft developer traveled extensively for his job.
Finding no way to connect with sports teams looking for temporary players for not just him, but also his children became the idea. Health is an important part of a corporate offering and he valued his sports time. So, at first, the developer wanted to pitch the idea to Microsoft which I wasn’t keen on due to IP. But he wanted to do it, so, we crafted a short winning pitch which addressed all the decision makers.
Then I called in a lawyer to talk with him because if we pitched it to Microsoft they would own the idea and his stake in the game would be reduced.
We had to bin the first pitch to Microsoft and cancel the meeting before he gave his idea away for peanuts!
So, we switched focus to pitching to US VC.
We extensively researched the market using a methodology I like to call “finding the gap”. Essentially, you look at the entire competitive landscape, look at what they are doing well, where the demand is and then…….
Find the Gap
We found that although the market was well serviced in respect of servicing the teams or coaches no one was really looking at how to fill the gap for the consumer. This was because the teams or coaches hold the money.
But just like two-sided marketplaces the teams and coaches (buyers) also need players (consumers).
Consumers and Buyers
I like to use Babette’s Industry Fusion Analysis to explain to clients the difference between a consumer and a buyer in a competitive landscape situation. It’s a simple way to look at how competitive or landscape forces will affect the client’s idea (especially in a two-sided marketplace where you may have a consumer influence on the product).
This also makes sure that they stay focused on the commercial outcome and not turn on the shiny buttons syndrome and jump from one idea to another.
After reviewing all the available research from IBIS, Roy Morgan, our own research methodology gap find via Google and Duck Duck Go and social media etc – we talked to people about the idea using Rob Fitzpatrick’s The Mom Test which is a really great way for people to ask the right questions – mostly to get to a NO really fast.
Fast No’s – saves time and money.
Our research proved that there was market demand and the problem we were trying to solve became much more simple to articulate.
Our pitch ended up being an extremely short 4 pitch slide deck in pdf.
Remember we’re dealing with US VC who come across hundreds of pitches, that said, we did produce a more lengthy document just in case they wanted more information straight away.
So, what made our pitch more likely to get through? Besides the words and the commercial stock quality photos?
I want to say – it was just the pitch deck and research piece. But, the Microsoft developer’s brother is a US developer who knew the VC for a number of years and as such he understood the audience better than anyone else.
This helped us focus on what commercial idea would appeal to this VC – because we knew to some degree what the audience wanted.
Think about this when you’re crafting your pitch deck – who are they and how best to pitch your idea to that audience.
Here are the main points to focus on:
For us, the US VC had its own team to execute on pitched ideas.
Both developers had busy lives and didn’t want to leave to become Founders – so they essentially sold their idea. I worked with their lawyer on the documents which ended up specifying a % take of the company for my client.
If you’re thinking of pitching and not sure where to start, give me a call or email.
I’ll help you focus on the commercial aspects.
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