How long will it be before entrepreneurs realize and start treating fundraising is a sales process, not as an inalienable right?!
Last week I attended my umpteenth Angel group forum. Four formal pitches. Six mini pitches. Plus a few updates from the ecosystem. Not an uncommon pattern for a gathering by an Angel group.
The problem… nearly all of these presenters presented facts and figures. Slide after slide of the same-old, tired 10-slide set of details. Far too many details. Details no investor can remember today.
The problem… presentations, not stories. Slide after slide filled with bullets and text, which presenter after presenter turned to face rather than connecting with the audience. Rather than grabbing the audience’s hearts and making them feel the importance of the startup’s work.
The problem… nine presenters who presented from behind the lecturn, fifteen feet from the nearest investors, rather than stepping up to look those investors in the eye, to begin the process of building trust, which is the core of any investment.
The problem… pitch after pitch that were crafted without regard to the fact that the day would be filled with other pitches. Pitch after pitch after pitch that failed to bring anything entertaining or interesting to stand out amongst the competition. Where in fundraising, the competition is EVERY OTHER company raising money.
Finally, the biggest problem of them all… far too many entrepreneurs who pitched without excitement and without passion. If the speaker is not excited, there is no change anyone in the audience will get excited. What a waste of time and energy delivering a tired, boring, cookie-cutter business plan.
I know it is possible to do better. I know this, as I work face-to-face with entrepreneurs every year, forcing them to craft stories that are interesting, and compelling, and inspiring. Stories that leave the audience wanting answers. Stories that start conversations, as the path from pitching to investment flows through discussions. Stories that are memorable, that investors can not only remember the next day, but which are interesting enough to share with their friends, growing the potential network of investors rather making investors wonder why they keep attending these Angel group events.
Better is difficult. To get the level of polish seen at the Fledge Demo Day, the fledglings iterate and practice their stories for weeks. Not one week or two weeks, but three weeks of daily effort. Despite all that effort, these are still not worthy of TED, but most succeed at capturing the audiences’ attention and getting the key points across, all in just 6 minutes or less.
So… the next time you have a chance to step up and pitch to a crowd, expecting them to invest, remember that its up to you to stand out, be memorable, and give them something to remember.