How to Pitch Your Startup

How to Pitch Your Startup

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at fbFund REV demo day watching 20+ startups pitch to a room of over 100 investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.

What’s interesting is the pattern I started to see emerging.  Some of the best startups not only had the strongest pitch, but also had an amazing person selling!

Here’s 5 characteristics I noticed and why I think they’re the most important when pitching your startup.

  • Have a presence
  • Command the room
  • Tell a story
  • Solid eye contact
  • Choose your words carefully

Have a presence: Believe (internalize) that you’re going to succeed and show the audience how freakin’ excited you are about your solution.  Be high energy! (ex: Brad Wolfe opened with a song full out).

Tip: Do 20 pushups before you get up to pitch.

Command the room: Talk loudly, don’t ask if people can hear you.  Just get up there and go for it – be focused and stay on topic <- no one-one-one banter with an audience member. (ex: Leah Busque [RunMyErrand] rocked it out standing tall at 5,1′)

Tip: Project your voice as if your talking to people behind the last row in the room.

Solid Eye contact: Scan the room and talk to the audience, not your slides. Be sure to connect, smile / head nob / confirm with attendees (ex: Leila Chirayath Janah [Samasource] did an amazing job scanning, talking and smiling!)

Tip: Take 3 seconds to acknowledge people sitting in the far left and right corners of the room.

Tell a story: Stories are engaging, features aren’t.  Explain the problem you’re solving and why you’re solving it (include the “back story”). Also, the user flow is important, however don’t fall into the trap during the demo of explain each field name and button click = super annoying. (ex: Brian Phillips [Thread] did an amazing job connecting his real life story to his startup)

Choose your words carefully: Don’t say things like; potentially, soon, try, we believe, etc (a.ka. debby-downer-words). Sometimes certainty and conviction is the only thing a startup has and your job is to make others feel this.  Words are very important.

Do you have any other tips? Please leave a comment – would mean the world.

Overview Video with Mr. 500 Hats (Dave McClure)

Dave McClure – fbFund REV from fbFund REV on Vimeo.

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  • http://samasource.org Leila C.

    Thanks Dan. I think telling stories is probably the best way to hook people into a pitch. The good thing about nonprofits is that we usually have a lot of them.

  • https://www.danmartell.com dmartell

    @Leila Agreed! Nonprofits definitely have many that pull on the heart strings.

    One of the most memorable for me in the past year was Dana (CEO of http://www.goodguide.com) talking about his daughter: http://www.techcrunch50.com/2008/presenter.php?presenter=94

  • http://500hats.typepad.com/ Dave mcclure

    great tips Dan 🙂

    maybe you should start becoming a startup speaking coach!

  • http://runmyerrand.com Leah Busque

    I’m honored you put me in at 5,1′ … that might be a little generous! 😉 Great too meet you tonight at Startup2Startup as well!

  • http://www.marquese.us Marquese Martin-Hayes

    Dan…thanks a ton buddy! You rock!

  • http://audreyr.posterous.com audreyr

    This contains a lot of helpful gems – thanks for writing it up! I caught much of the fbFund REV demo day on ustream and started analyzing the presentations in my head to figure out how to be a better presenter. This pretty much sums up the little things I noticed, plus more.

  • https://www.danmartell.com dmartell

    @Dave – Thx!, but I think I’ll stick to being an Entrepreneur – it’s the one thing I know best.

  • http://www.luckyotta.weebly.com tonybordonaro

    great article but
    where do you think …magic …fits in the pitch ? is it just what and how they are saying it that creates the magic?
    when I was 16 I was in a band called the tuneful trolley 6 16 yr old kids …but we had some sort of magic that captured the imagination of Capital Records …enough so that they released an album by us…I know we werent technically the best ….is it just being seen in person that makes that happen ?

    today I am working on a site called http://www.luckyotta.weebly.com (obviously a demo) and the idea is we sell 7 items a week…people buy them the 13,26,39, ect person to buy the items wins them for free … it sounds magical to me ….but not getting the response back from vc reps …

    your take?

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