Pitching for investment any time soon? – some dos and don’ts


Yesterday I was part of the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn judging panel chaired by Intertrade’s CEO Liam Nellis – that’s a photo of the two of us taken last week on the steps in Stormont.  Also on the panel were Taxback.com’s Terry Clune, Xing’s Bill Liao & e-synergy’s Fergus McIlduff.  Over the course of the day we watched 6 pitches as if we were an investment panel, then scored the companies & selected winners to go through to the next stage of the competition.

I thought whilst it was in my head – because I know a lot of my friends & associates are entrepreneurs who are no doubt entering these sorts of competitions or pitching for investment – I would scribble out a few dos & don’ts for anyone that’s interested:

·         Work hard to distil your value proposition & get it out there early in your preso – remember that the investment or judging panel will be seeing loads of companies, often in a short space of time

·         If you have a tangible product & have brought samples, pass them round early in your pitch

·         If you turn up with a colleague, which is a good idea, only one of you pitch – it hardly ever works to try & share the pitch between you so let the person who’s best at presenting do it; also do try & behave as if you are a team

·         Don’t ramble & do stick to your allotted time – it’s annoying when people go over time because they either haven’t rehearsed enough or because they spend too long telling you irrelevant stuff

·         Use some pictures or graphics in your presentation to bring it to life

·         Don’t use a video that’s longer than a minute

·         If you’re very early stage, think about your sales and marketing plan – it isn’t enough to state the market opportunity – you need a go-to-market plan that hangs together

·         Don’t argue with the panel – it just makes you look bad

·         Be honest when answering questions

·         Know your numbers back to front and the assumptions behind them – expect to get asked about anything that isn’t self explanatory

·         If you’re referring to high level numbers in your presentation, make sure you have identified what they are – are they £s, people, units

·         Include some innovation – you don’t have to be an inventor – it might just be something unusual about your business model or your presentation that makes you stand out

·         Keep your pitch consistent with any business plan you’ve already submitted

·         Finally – don’t use corny or gimmicky presentation techniques unless you are very certain of your delivery capabilities – they can be excruciating to watch (think Angelcot woman on Dragon’s Den insisting on singing…)

I know there’s a lot out there about this stuff for entrepreneurs but I thought I’d take 5 minutes out to share my take – interested in your comments so keep ‘em coming.