What is the single-most important step in moving inventions through the commercialization pipeline?
The Valley of Death got its name for good reason. Literally billions of dollars in valuable innovations have ended up there, starved for funding that could ultimately bring important technologies to market, along with profits for inventors and universities – and jobs for struggling economies. Of course, a select few do make it out of this danger zone – why? In many cases, they understood what investors or other funding sources wanted to hear (and what they DIDN’T want to hear), as well as how to present it most effectively in their pitch. It’s an absolutely critical element of attracting the funds needed for promising early-stage technologies, and a skill you can simply not afford to be without.
Whether preparing for a pitch competition, a series of investor meetings, a conference presentation, an internal funding committee meeting, or a top-tier Silicon Valley VC, the quality and content of your pitch matters – IT MATTERS A LOT. Hit the right hot buttons and you’ve got a shot. But if you lack the right focus, or trigger one of many investor red flags and alarm bells, you’ll see eyes glaze over as your chance for needed cash leaves the room, with you and your pitch deck close behind.
To help ensure your pitch gives you the best chance possible for securing vital funding, we’ve invited three experts – who’ve both made successful pitches and heard hundreds from the other side of the table – to help you nail your presentation, hit the right notes, and steer clear of common blunders:
How to Become “Pitch Perfect”
and Avoid Investor Turn-Offs
This 90-minute program will provide solid advice and dozens of takeaways on how to ensure your pitch gives you the very best chance of standing out from the crowd, grabbing investors’ attention, and ultimately landing the funds you need to take your innovation to the next level and beyond. Our trio of experts are ready to share their pitching best practices and their war stories!
Here’s a brief outline of the program agenda:
- Follow this checklist to prepare and know when you’re ready for investor scrutiny
- The 5 must haves before even thinking about approaching funding sources
- The critical elements of a successful pitch: Team, problem and solution, proof of market acceptance/validation, market size
- What NOT to focus on: The mistakes that make investors squirm in their seats
- Pro or amateur? How your pitch will define you (hint: DO NOT overpromise)
- The nuances of pitching to:
- Seed-stage investors
- WAR STORIES: Hear practical, real-life experiences with successful pitches and failed ones — what happened and in hindsight, what could’ve made the difference
- Best practices for approaching funding sources, networking and creating a stellar presentation
Mike Drzal is a shareholder at LeClairRyan and serves as chair of the firm’s Venture Capital practice. He focuses his practice on and customarily acts as lead counsel in connection with debt and equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, joint ventures, management buyouts, intellectual property licensing transactions and a variety of other domestic and international transactions. He also serves as counsel to a growing angel investor network and as a mentor at DayOne Ventures, a Blacksburg-based, invitation-only seed stage investment and mentorship program for technology-based start-ups.
Robert Okabe’s first involvement with start-up ventures was as an angel investor. He has made 13 investments of his own funds since 1995, with one major liquidity event and three other positive returns of capital. He is also a co-founder of an angel group, helped organize an angel capital fund, and serves as a Director of the Angel Capital Education Foundation. He is a co-founder of RPX Group, a firm focused on building start-up companies from university innovations, and has led many of the firm’s most successful engagements.
Luke Smith has spent time in engineering and operations at large public companies, as well as a string of start-ups. He led engineering organizations, manufacturing organizations and product divisions in large public companies. In 1995, he entered the world of start-ups as vice president of operations and chief executive for a handful of technology-based companies. Smith has extensive experience obtaining funding for start-ups. Additionally, he consults, mentors, and serves as a director in the start-up space.