The aim is to secure investors, and to achieve that, the pitch deck presented needs to make them sit up and pay attention. Do not become just another pitch they hear and promptly forget. Failure is not an option, and these are the common blunders that scream, “Fail”:
1. The wrong investors: One of the biggest mistakes made by companies looking for venture capital is not knowing whom they are meeting with. Pitching the wrong people is a waste of your time and theirs. Does your business fall in line with what the firm usually invests in, or their area of expertise? Even though your pitch deck is great, doing some beforehand research saves on the disappointment of a failed pitch. Look at the types of companies your investors have backed before. What size are they? Do they want established companies only, or are start-ups okay? Additionally, make sure there are no competitor conflicts.
2. Making a universal pitch: Unique pitches stand out, canned ones do not. You are missing a real opportunity by approaching every investor the same way. They have likes and dislikes – which are what you want to cater to – not knowing what these are is a huge mistake.
3. Not knowing when to stop: Once is fluke, more than that might be an issue you need to address before continuing. If one of your investors voices a concern over a portion of your pitch deck, consider their comments carefully. If other investors raise the same topic, continuing without some adjustments is going to get you nowhere. Resume with your pitch deck once it is flawless.
4. Being lifeless and dull: First impressions are make it or break it. Dress the part and make eye contact with your audience. Reading from your slides verbatim means that you miss out on the opportunity to engage your investors and judge the climate of the presentation. The fact is: Most people have a noticeably short attention span so less is more. You must create a spark almost instantly. Slide after slide will lose the attention of your audience unless each one shines.
5. Being unprepared: The only reason a potential investor will not have a question is if they are going to turn you down. Potential VCs will want to know exactly where their money is going and how you are going to proceed. Remember that they owe you nothing – including their signature on a cheque. Before beginning your pitch, think of all the potential questions an investor may have, and ensure you have appropriate answers waiting in the wings. Keep in mind that some questions may cause you to feel defensive and be prepared to not react that way! Nothing will lose a potential investor faster than a company who believes they know better than the investors. They have made their money, so they are doing something right.
6. Ignoring a chance at the informal: Formal pitches are your planned opportunities to secure investors, but when informal opportunities show up, they are they to be taken advantage of. Asking for the advice of a potential investor after giving them a brief rundown could easily lead to a formal invitation for your company to make a presentation.
7. Keeping quiet about updates: Even investors passing on your pitch want to know that you value their advice and listen to their criticisms, especially when you act on them. Calling them back after some time has passed to advise them you made changes based on their recommendations shows you are willing to take on the necessary effort required to get things done. Not letting previous turndowns know you have made fundamental changes only ensures you will see no term sheets coming from these corners.
8. Not being honest: Honesty is valued with good reason. If your investor mentions something they notice is a potential pitfall, you use lose all credibility when admitting you already know. Be upfront and avoid negative feedback on a known issue.
You put a lot of time into making the perfect pitch deck. Make sure that you can back it up with everything you say or do. Avoid the most common avoidable mistakes and watch investors line up for a chance to work with your company.