9 Things That Take a Pitch From Good to Great

I’ve seen hundreds of startups pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists, and most of them—at best—are just okay. There have been plenty of pretty good ones that hit all the key components of a pitch, but only a handful of those took it a step further and were truly great.

When I think about what set those excellent pitches apart from the rest, it turns out that they all shared some of the same qualities. If you employ these nine tips for taking a good pitch and making it great, you’re going to give the kind of pitch that stands out to investors, too.

1. Tell a real customer story

When possible, open your pitch by telling a customer story that addresses the problem your product or service solves.

Avoid using buzzwords and tech talk. Instead, use real names and real customer challenges. Keep it simple and realistic. In the end, people will remember the stories you tell, so have a few compelling customer stories ready to share.

2. Pare it down to the essentials

Many entrepreneurs deliver their pitch as if they’re auctioning off their grandmother’s antiques. They seem anxious, tense, and nervous.

Relax and realize that when you’re giving a pitch, less is more. Prioritize the most important things you want to share and stick to those pieces—and take a nice big breath before you speak. It will help you deliver a more compelling and thoughtful pitch.

3. Outline your business model

Your business model tells an investor how your idea will convert into being economically viable.

In just a few short bullets, show how you make money and from whom. Your business model should answer the questions: What do you sell? To whom? How much do they pay? And, how do they pay you?

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4. Make sure your presentation is crystal clear

Keep your pitch short, sweet, and to the point. Practice your pitch on someone outside of your company, and ask them to repeat what they think your business model is back to you and ask you questions.

5. Talk about yourself

Investors invest in people first, and ideas second. Don’t be afraid to showcase your and your team’s accomplishments—especially if those accomplishments relate to what it takes to start and scale a venture.

6. Tell us: What have you done lately?

Share the successes and traction your team has had since the inception of your company. Investors want to hear about your first customers, investments put into the company, key media placements, signed letters of intent, product and customer milestones, key hires, and so on. Show the investors that you know how to sell them on your own company.

7. Address competition head-on

Never say “I don’t have any competition.” Everyone has competition, even if it’s indirect competition. Illustrate that you understand your competitive landscape and your differentiators by presenting your competition in a matrix format.

8. Give the numbers that are behind your numbers

Show exactly how you will reach your revenue goals. Share what your assumptions are about your business model.

9. Show your product

Even if your product is not yet built, show mock-ups. It’s amazing what a visual representation of your product and your business can do for the effectiveness of your pitch.

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