Like many of you, I have been watching the Olympics this week and while watching the Ice Dancing events, I had an observation – pitching your company to Venture Capital Investors is like competing in the Olympics.

Required Elements are an important part of ice dancing.  The judges are making sure that all the required elements have been met and will rate the dancers on their performance.  As I watched the entrants I observed that some simply went through the required elements one after the other and while they met the basics, there was less art in what they presented.

Venture capital pitches have a few required elements: team, product, market, competition, deal, etc.  You have to have those in the pitch.  Companies that follow a ten slide template tend to be Bronze producers at best.  The Gold pitches weave the required elements into their pitch in a transparent way that work together to create a compelling story that is interesting and engaging.

The other observation I had was that when I try to second guess what the judges have to say, I am WAY off during the first few iterations of any particular event.  Since I’m a metrics guy, I like to understand how the judges think and measure success.  During the first few entrants I’m way off, but then by viewing how the judges respond to competitors’ performances, I get to where I can fairly reliably calibrate my guesses with the responses of the judges.

This would be a good lesson to learn for many entrepreneurs.  It is important to watch lots of pitches in order to understand what the judges (investors) are looking for.  Once you can start to connect the dots, you can start to put together much better pitches that will be compelling for viewers.

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