Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Pitching remotely is the new normal and there’s a clear divide between investors:
those that are more used to the traditional face to face interactions; and
fortunately, those (such as family offices) who are used to managing their deal process remotely already.
If it's the former, you need to ensure you begin to build a meaningful relationship with as little disruption as possible and making them feel comfortable enough to invest in you. It’s not going to be easy, with some VCs having openly declared they’re only looking at new deals with founders they’ve already met and known for years, which highlights the importance of building trust quickly.
Either way, everyone has to adjust. This article will cover a variety of best practice pitching techniques, collated from our network of investors, expert pitch coaches, and our learnings from founders along the way.
MUST DO: be cognizant of the current economic climate - there’s been a big hit to public markets, and therefore you need to address this before the meeting by adjusting your forecasts and metrics (and therefore valuation) - otherwise, you could come across as naive, knock your credibility, and make building trust through a webcam even harder than it already is. If you’re in one of the shielded sectors such as HealthTech - lucky you - this is less important!
Many of these guidelines may seem obvious, but they provide a clear framework to reference against before and after your pitch!
Before the pitch
Research the fund you’re meeting, do they have capital to deploy? Have they previously invested in your sector? If the answer to these is no, then there’s a high chance you’re burning your own time. Check they’re on the COVID Investors List (we can help with this if you’re struggling!)
Research who you’re meeting in advance, do you have any connections or interests in common to help build some rapport in place of face to face?
Ensure all the correct participants are added to the calendar invite well in advance, the later you leave it the higher the risk of a scheduling clash and key attendees not being able to join
Don't invite your entire team, for an initial meeting it should be just the founder on. You don't want to give the investor the idea that you're not busy delivering business
Circulate your deck with some brief notes (and instructions to join) 48h before, video pitches are harder to analyse in real time and investors will appreciate being able to prepare some areas of focus / questions in advance
Get used to one of Zoom / Hangouts / Teams and solely use that rather than flicking between - test out the different view modes so you can advise your participants on the best way to engage with you during the presentation
Join the call 5 mins early to test AV and have a glass of water ready for when you get a dry throat between your pitch finishing and questions
During the pitch
Introduce yourself and anyone else on the chat
Focus on building a relationship for the first few minutes, rather than jumping straight in with your elevator pitch. This is important before you kick off and may sound obvious - they are people, so get to know them - but it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment
Set expectations / a loose agenda to follow e.g. “I’ll pitch for the first 5 minutes and then we can chat through your questions, then to round things off I have a few questions about how your fund operates and a few portfolio companies we potentially have synergies with”. Don’t make this too rigid, the best meetings are fluid!
Do not use the whole meeting talking about yourself, it needs to be a 2-way meeting and the potential investor should also be ‘selling’ to you in return - ask them your own questions about why they’re best positioned to help you
For a pitch to a larger audience with multiple attendees or stakeholders (10+ people with most watching on mute):
to trigger interaction from the start, ask everyone to write in the chatbox where in the world they’re dialling in from. This makes people feel more part of the conversation and they’ll be more likely to post in the chat with questions throughout the presentation
you can consider having a spotter to be judging reactions and attention levels of the participants
Ask your family to pause their downloads / not watch Netflix while you’re pitching (time is precious and if you drop out mid-pitch, research has shown that your credibility falls)
Try and avoid interruptions, but children walking in can be endearing…
Don’t end with “Thank you for your time” - your time is precious too - so instead, finish with an action. For example, “join us on our journey as we grow to £Xm revenue in 3 years' time”.
After the pitch
Follow up with a summary of agreed timelines, reiterate the questions posed to you that you weren't able to answer on the spot and you need to go away and get further info for, and finally a request for any further questions that come to mind
Adding the attendees on Linkedin can assist in ease of future communications, establishing your network and hammering home your credibility (as long as you've ensured your Linkedin is up to date and looks professional!)
Debrief with your spotter (if relevant). Which areas did the potential investors seem the most engaged, and which turned them off?
Incorporate any feedback from the potential investors, feedback from your spotter (if relevant), and any common areas of questioning you need to sharpen up into your next pitch!
Get in touch if you’d like support with your pitch or to discuss your Next Round of funding!