How to pitch your startup in 30 minutes (initial introductory meeting) in 8 steps

How to pitch your startup in 30 minutes (initial introductory meeting) in 8 steps

1. Introduction (5 minutes): Ask the investor if they want to introduce themselves first or they want the company to do the introduction first.  Go with the flow.  2-3 min from investors.  In about 1-2 minutes, introduce your team and give a first strong impression - your and your team's background, where you are based, how long you have been working together, and what "hats" each person wears. Skip asking investors questions here. You can ask questions later.  Listen, take notes, and dive into your pitch.

2. Dive in and set the scene to further give details regarding your expertise (2-3 minutes): Spend a few minutes sharing the background story of your startup, team, and expertise. If you have multiple members on the team at the meeting, practice individual elevator pitch. Alternatively, the CEO does the team intro for everyone and keeps the rhythm and time management.

3. Define the Problem and Solution (5 minutes): Dive into the problem your startup is addressing. Start with the general problem space (macro-view), market opportunity, and proceed to the specific problem that your startup is solving today with your solution.  70% of the time on the problem, 30% on the solution. Show impactful visuals of the solution on paper - what's going in, what comes out, where does it fit in the tech stack? Here, you are want to create a clear and simple mapping of the problem and the solution. Don't get into the weeds yet. Be excited!  It's tiring to pitch repeatedly but I want to see and feel that you are excited to pitch to me!

5. Traction and Numbers (5 minutes): Discuss pilots, customers, observations on commercialization. Who are the current customers, what are their persona, how much are they paying, who is paying?  Bookings, (annual recurring revenue) ARR, recognized revenue, y/y growth, gross margin, unit economics, gross burn, bright spots and things you are working on to improve (which you can discuss later but I appreciate the transparency).

4. Product Demo (5 minutes): Live demo as if you are pitching to a customer. Incorporate the main use case.  Also briefly discuss implementation.

8. Competitive Analysis (3 minutes): Briefly discuss competition and what sets your solution apart. How does your solution fit in the "existing" stack?

7. GTM Strategy (3 minutes): How do you acquire customers today?  What is working, and what needs tuning?

8. Fundraising plan (1 minutes): Clearly state the amount of funding you are seeking to raise, the timing, and use of funds. State the current post-money valuation and the amount the company has raised to date.

Be prepared to carve out 10 minutes for Q&A on customers, use case, financials.

Next steps: if the lead investor expresses interest, send the deck, be prepared to share cap table, historical 3-statement financials for the past 1 -2 years by months, current year budget, pro-forma, and put the prospective investor on your communication list.

In this 30-min introductory call, I am evaluating the following:

  • Can the team pitch and communicate clearly?
  • Do the story, product, market, and numbers all tie together for me?
  • How deeply does the team understand the problem and how do they know they understand the problem? What signals have they gathered and how have they used it to advance?
  • How has the team allocated capital for building, growing, and managing execution risks?
  • Can I put the team in front of prospective enterprise customers and investors in the future?
  • What areas can I help, and are those areas aligned to team's perspective?

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