Many successful entrepreneurs say that the search to secure venture funding feels more daunting than launching the business itself. And, for many, raising capital has become especially challenging in recent years. Venture capital investment is at an all-time high and, consequently, investors are examining more pitch decks now than in any other period over the past few years.
So, understandably, the desire to knock it out of the park is top-of-mind for entrepreneurs. And when entrepreneurs need to pitch remotely, it only adds to the stress.
Fortunately, there are a host of strategies to help you land a successful pitch, even when you’re miles away from the potential check writer.
1. Know your audience.
According to Fuel Venture Capital, your window of time to grab a potential investor’s attention is narrower than ever. That means that it’s critical to arrive at your pitch with intimate knowledge of your audience, as well as what type of pitch will immediately resonate with them.
Tools like Affinity prime you with relationship intelligence insights are key in this remote era. Affinity allows you to understand your relationship strength with prospective VCs, as well as to uncover shared connections—and the true strength of those connections—that you can mention during the pitch to build rapport. As well, Affinity’s integration with ClearBit allows you to understand investors’ investment preferences and philosophies and, in turn, deliver a pitch that resonates.
Doing your homework is key to capitalizing on your narrow window to impress your prospective investors.
2. Stay calm. Listen. And learn.
One of the most common mistakes made during in-person pitches is the tendency to fall back on a carefully crafted pitch deck. This tendency is even greater in remote contexts when it’s more difficult to read body language and engage in back-and-forth conversations. Many entrepreneurs assume that the funding decision is heavily based on the information outlined in their pitch—a slew of key facts and charts.
But, like effective entrepreneurs, VCs will arrive at the pitch having done their homework. They will also more than likely ask for a leave behind. Rather than referencing details in a lengthy presentation, use your valuable meeting time to demonstrate your leadership and your passion. And above all, stay calm, listen, and learn!
- Stay calm: Demonstrating calmness under pressure is key to the success of any entrepreneur. Practice as a team and ensure that the online interaction is cohesive and demonstrative of your collaborative approach. Define who is best to respond to questions by topic and have ‘short and sweet’ slides ready to illustrate.
- Listen: Venture capitalists have a lot of wisdom and–if you’ve chosen your VCs carefully–they’ll have a vested interest in your space. Their input is invaluable. Have a dialogue and ask questions to demonstrate that you value their insights and are committed to co-creating a successful venture.
- Learn: Feedback is a gift so embrace it. Even after you have poured your heart and soul into what you thought was the perfect pitch, demonstrate your ability to learn and grow. Incorporate the feedback you receive into your closing remarks and your request to follow-up.
3. Make an impact.
A venture capital investment is as much an investment in the entrepreneur as it is in the venture itself. It’s critical to make a personal impact.
Remember to be real and not just business-focused. If you were presenting the pitch in person, a certain levity would naturally be introduced through small talk and banter. You would never walk into a boardroom and immediately launch into the pitch. Although more challenging in a remote meeting, make sure you demonstrate authenticity and your desire to connect.
Once you’ve set the stage for a successful pitch, refrain from focusing solely on the ‘what’ and demonstrate the ‘why’! Mark Suster, Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures, has shared great advice for how to connect in today’s world where ‘zoom fatigue’ exists. Mark advises, “make it very clear early in the discussion what you do and why it matters”. When you personalize your vision and illustrate why it matters to you, you’ll convey why it should be important to your audience.
The process of pitching to investors remotely can be overwhelming. By tailoring your message to your audience and delivering it in a calm and receptive manner, you’ll increase your odds of making an impact and you’ll differentiate yourself from your competition. With fewer than 1% of US startups securing venture funding, the tips outlined here will help you make a strong connection with your potential investors, even if you can’t close the conversation with a handshake.