Learn what advice one founder received on his pitch from investors and how he kept his pitch clear and concise.
By Paolo Gaudiano (Founder, Infomous)
On July 12 I had the pleasure of participating in a Women 2.0 Investor Hangout, where I presented Infomous to Kathleen Utecht (Investor, Comcast Ventures) and Morgane Rollando (Angel Investor; CEO, Synerfia). I was excited for this opportunity because I know how valuable it is to be able to deliver a “lightning” pitch. Investors are flooded with requests from enthusiastic entrepreneurs, so you often need to be able to convey your idea in a short time. How do you condense all the excitement, the opportunity, the value, the evidence into only seven minutes?
Here at Infomous, we know all about conveying big ideas in simple, easy to understand ways. In fact, Infomous was created to make it easy to explore large amounts of content. Infomous can collect articles, blogs, tweets and other types of text to make it easy for users to quickly find what is relevant to them. For example, the Infomous cloud below shows the main topics appearing across dozens of articles from the Women 2.0 website. As you click different words you will reveal links to related articles.
Before the hangout took place, I thought carefully about what I wanted to achieve: make a convincing case that we are tackling a huge problem; show that we have developed an elegant solution; demonstrate tangible progress; and illustrate our potential as a business. How could I pack so much content in only 420 seconds?
1) Keep it short and simple
If you have a good idea, you should be able to state it convincingly in just a few words. If you feel compelled to say a ton of things, chances are that you are not entirely clear about what is truly valuable and compelling about your own idea. This is why I would encourage everyone to try Investor Hangouts, and why I am so grateful to Women 2.0 for creating this opportunity for many entrepreneurs.
2) Make it visual and make it relevant
The success of the Infomous platform is based on the notion that humans prefer visual exploration to reading – as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. My task was to apply the same notion when presenting Infomous during the Investor Hangout. Fortunately for me, Infomous itself offers a compelling visualization, so I was able to prepare a quick demo that captured relevant information about both investors. Even if your product is not very visual, try to come up with an image or brief demo that conveys quickly the core capabilities of your offering. Relevance is also crucial: try to customize your demo to be relevant to the audience and be sure to keep it short and sweet!
3) Familiarize yourself with the Google Hangouts platform ahead of time
Make sure to do a test run of Google Hangouts with a friend to make sure that your mic and video work properly. This can save you a ton of stress on the day of and let you focus on presenting your best self! Prepare for slight technical problems by making sure you’re able to deliver your pitch even without your product demo. Keep in mind that there may be a delay between what you see and what your audience is seeing. Avoid animations and pause frequently to make sure the audience is in sync.
4.) Stick to the time limit
Have a detailed plan for your pitch, but be prepared to be flexible in case you don’t get through it all in time. Practice a couple of times to make sure you’re well within seven minutes. On the day of, when your time is up, stop! Going over time shows that you were not prepared adequately and may annoy your audience. You should be able to stop anywhere and make it seem like that was exactly where you wanted to end.
In general, my experience with the Investor Hangout pitch was great: the two investors gave me valuable feedback and advice. For instance, they pointed out that I should have mentioned the overall market size and talked about the team up front. These were silly mistakes on my part because all investors care about the team and want a sense of the financial potential.
More importantly, the Investor Hangout will have a significant positive impact as we gear up for our Series A round later this year. For one thing, we have already had a follow-up meeting with Ms. Utecht, and hope to continue our conversation with Comcast Ventures. More importantly, this experience has helped me to develop a tight, sharp and compelling way to describe our company, something that will be extremely helpful as we continue to reach out not only to prospective investors, but also to prospective clients, partners and employees.
Want to practice a 'lightning' style pitch? Sign up for the next Investor Hangouts session.
About the guest blogger: Paolo Gaudiano (@icopaolo) is Founder and President of Infomous, Inc., where he is trying to revolutionize the way users, publishers and advertisers interact with online content, while striving to ensure that Infomous remains a stimulating, productive and fun company. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Icosystem Corp. and of Concentric, Inc. Paolo holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics, an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems.