And Here Comes the Pitch…

Mike Peña, Stanford University August 20, 2013

Entrepreneurs eager to win funding for their big idea might be tempted to spend most of their initial presentation to investors discussing their new product, service or feature. But ask any seasoned venture capitalist, and you’ll start to hear a pattern in regards to what else they want to hear: How will the money be spent? What’s the market opportunity and your competitive edge? And perhaps most importantly, why they should believe in your core team members.

Covering the Basics

In the video clip below, Kate Mitchell, co-founder of Scale Venture Partners, puts it bluntly: She wants to hear if the market opportunity is big enough, and whether the team is “relevant” — do its members bring the right skills, experiences and passions.

Her firm sees about 5,000 business plans come in annually. But its partners only spend time on about 150 of them, and in the end, fund somewhere between six to 10, Mitchell said during her Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders talk last May. So her advice speaks volumes.

Establishing Credibility

Heidi Roizen, a venture partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, says the pitch needs to get right to the “value proposition.” And when introducing key team members, Roizen says that specifying past successes — particularly on projects with brand-name recognition — establishes credibility.

And while this video is from 2002, it offers a timeless tip. Roizen says that the most important goal of any first meeting with investors is not to convince them to fund your venture, but solely to secure that next meeting.

From the Heart

This final clip captures a one-minute pitch by a speaker with a unique history: Heracio Harts developed a plan for bringing healthier foods and activities to underserved communities while he was in prison.

Harts is a recent graduate of The Last Mile, a program that teaches incarcerated men and women fundamental business and entrepreneurship skills.The program was co-founded by Chris Redlitz and his wife, Beverly Parenti, both of whom also spoke last May as part of the ETL seminar series.