18 Rules for Pitching an Investor

Tom Wisniewski is a Managing Partner at Newark Venture Partners, which means he hears a lot of pitches from entrepreneurs and founders who want funding. At the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival Wisniewski gave his top 18 tips for a successful pitch. Bonus: Each tip is short and sweet, clocking in at 140 characters or less!

1. Introduce yourself. Always begin with the most important information – your name!

2. Ditch the jargon. There are a few words that turn your pitch and product into a walking cliche. Especially annoying: disruptive, pivot and any variation of hack/hacking/hacker.

3. Give three reasons why your product or service is amazing. Just three. Not four or two or six. Three.

4. Answer the V.C.’s first burning question: Why should I care about this?

5. Answer the V.C.’s second burning question: How do you make money at this?

6. Keep your pitch short. Most attention spans begin to wander by sentence #3. Instead of going on and on, pause and allow someone to ask a question or clarify information.

7. Understand how your product or service solves a particular pain point.

8. Don’t be too free. Freemium is the current, popular model, but giving away too much can make your product lack value. If giving away is part of your model, make sure the investor also understands how you’ll be making money.

9. Seriously, did you detail how exactly your idea is going to make money?

10. Recognize that the V.C. may not be familiar with the particulars of your specific industry or community (i.e. gaming, meditation, kickball etc.). Drop any insider words or phrases, and be sure to succinctly explain anything an outsider might not understand.

11. Remember: no one likes to be pitched. Instead of pitching, try talking.

12. Put yourself in the investor’s shoes. How would you want to be approached? How would you want to be pitched? Keep that in mind, from start to finish.

13. Don’t let your pitch languish. If your pitch starts to get boring or you start to ramble, you give the investor’s mind a chance to wander.

14. Don’t get too passionate. If your pitch becomes all about a specific cause, the V.C. might feel like they can’t stop you to ask questions to better understand your product.

15. Don’t get intimidated, flustered, or ruffled by the V.C.

16. Move quickly on your feet and roll with the punches. Be able to answer questions and respond to comments or critiques without losing a sense of humor or your confidence.

17. Don’t try to get to the no or yes in any one meeting.

18. The key to success: It’s all about building a relationship.

Watch highlights from Tom’s talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival:

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