Presenting a great Venture Capital pitch is critical to getting the follow-up appointment and beginning due diligence.  Most teams never make it past this critical step.  Why?


I haven’t seen your pitch yet, but if you didn’t get the follow-up meeting you were hoping for, here are some of the reasons why.

1)      You didn’t practice enough.

  1. Most teams go through their pitch just a few times. When have you practiced enough?

i.      You can give your pitch with no more than ten seconds variation in each presentation. ii.      You don’t read ANY of the words. iii.      You don’t look at the screen – it’s just a hint for you to know what you need to say. iv.      You don’t hunt for words, because you’ve already gone through them and carefully crafted them.

2)      Your slides don’t tell a story.

  1. Version 1.0 Decks have the basics, but don’t flow smoothly.
  2. Tell a story to Engage the audience
  3. Teach them something
  4. Make it FLOW rather than just going through ten slides.

3)      You didn’t engage the audience when you presented.

  1. LOOK at the audience, not your slides.
  2. When you know your pitch cold, you can comfortably engage.
  3. Make eye contact with four segments of the room.
  4. No demos, videos, etc. that distract from YOU.
  5. Only ONE presenter- don’t trade-off in the middle.
  6. Ask questions, tell jokes, etc.

4)      You took too long.  For a five minute pitch with five minutes of Q&A, here’s how to look at your time use.  Talk too much and you won’t have time for questions – a sure loser strategy.  (Adjust proportionately for 7, 10, 12, 15, 20 minute pitches, etc.)

  1. “Death Zone”                    7+ minutes
  2. “Cutting it Close”              6-7 minutes
  3. “Optimum”                         5-6 minutes

5)      Your timing was off.

  1. A really great pitch has PAUSES at key points to emphasize what’s important.
  2. Don’t appear rushed
  3. Be in CONTROL of time so that you focus on what’s important.
  4. Some slides took up to one minute – way too long.
  5. Break long slides up into multiple smaller ones.
  6. Average should be about 20-30 seconds per slide.

6)      You failed at Q&A

  1. Take your full five minutes and don’t run off the stage if there’s a five second pause.
  2. Engage the audience
  3. Refer to the “last slide” to prompt audience for more questions
  4. Have back pocket slides to answer complex questions or to elaborate if there are no questions.
  5. If no questions, say “one thing people often ask…” and talk about something great about your company.
  6. Answer with about the same pace as your pitch deck – 20-30 seconds per question.

7)      You didn’t start by “building a box” and ending with a killer final slide.

  1. Engage the audience at the beginning and use the first slide.
  2. If the audience doesn’t know what your topic is, they won’t be actively listening.
  3. Build a conceptual framework (box) so that the audience knows what you’re talking about in the first 15-20 seconds.  (Some pitches it takes up to two minutes = bad!)
  4. Last Slide has summary of key points to prompt questions.

8)      After your pitch the audience has no idea how you are going to Execute.

  1. Have a clear path from Point A to Point B with a strategic plan
  2. Don’t just assume your proforma numbers will happen, tell us HOW.
  3. Focus on the most difficult challenges you have and talk about your solutions.

9)      You didn’t address the Risks.

  1. Identify your top three risks.
  2. Provide a MITIGATION strategy for each.
  3. Show that you are thinking about RISK because you can be sure the investors are.

10)   You’ve pitched me, but I still don’t get your deal.

  1. What are the terms of your deal?
  2. How much are you raising?
  3. What kind of security?
  4. Exit strategy
  5. Valuation


Peter Adams
is co-author of Venture Capital for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons. 2013)  available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local book store.  Peter serves as the Executive Director of the Rockies Venture Club, America’s oldest angel investing group. RVC is a non-profit organization furthering economic development  whose companies raised over $23 million in the past year. RVC’s connects investors and entrepreneurs through conferences (Angel Capital Summit and Colorado Capital Conference), networking events, angel investing educational offerings and facilitation of Colorado’s largest angel investor groups. Peter is the founder of the Biz Girls CEO Development Program for high school age girls and is an Adjunct Professor in the Colorado State University EMBA program. Peter holds a BA Degree from Colorado College, PhD/ABD from University of Colorado and an MBA from Regis University.

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