MaRS Library How to give a great business presentation to investors
You’ve developed a great slide deck and know what you want to say. The next step is to ensure that you can present your material effectively to potential investors. The adage “practice makes perfect” applies here too. Practise your pitch until you can deliver it in a natural way.
What investors evaluate in our presentation
Investors are not only evaluating your business idea—they are also evaluating you and your team. Ideally, only one person should present, but definitely no more than two. The CEO should be the lead presenter, with either the technical or financial person presenting the slides if necessary.
Use this presentation as a learning opportunity and be open to the investors’ feedback. Take notes and follow up after the presentation with any questions or items that came up during the discussion.
Remember that the investors are evaluating your business and you as the management team of the business. If they have agreed to a meeting, you are in the early stages of negotiation. Show passion and enthusiasm.
The chemistry must be there for both the investors and the entrepreneur to make this partnership work over the long term. Be professional, responsive and respectful of the audience. Investors, particularly venture capitalists (VCs), are notorious for trying to push buttons to see how the entrepreneur reacts. They are trying to determine if they can partner with you for the next four to seven years.
Your presentation needs to tell your business story
Ask advisors and mentors to help you prepare and practise your presentation. Consider videotaping yourself. Some experts suggest that you should practise 25 times before you are completely familiar, confident and comfortable with a presentation.
Remember that you are selling your idea, your company and yourself.
Most importantly, be yourself.
It’s not just about the business proposition
Investors will be evaluating not only the business proposition, but whether or not they will invest in you. According to David S. Rose (aka The Pitch Coach), you must demonstrate:
- Experience—investors prefer to fund serial entrepreneurs or individuals who have deep sector experience
- Knowledge or domain expertise
- The right skill set—to get the company started and managed effectively
- Leadership—to hire and retain the right people
- Commitment—early-stage companies will face many ups and Downs; investors are assessing whether or not you will see it through
- Coachable—investors want to know that they can work with you and that you will internalize and act on their feedback
Investors will also be evaluating you on the four Cs:
- Competence—Do you have the skill set to build the business?
- Continuity—Are you going to see the venture through to the end?
- Connections—Do you have the networks to build the company?
- Chemistry—Is there chemistry between the team members and between the investors?
During your presentation, be prepared to answer questions
Be prepared to answer questions. In most cases, the more questions investors ask, the more interested they are. Prepare your answers ahead of time for questions you can anticipate.
Rose Tech Ventures. David S. Rose—The Pitch Coach. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://www.rose.vc/pitchcoach.
Cardis, J., et al. (2001). Venture Capital: The Definitive Guide for Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Practitioners. Toronto: John Wiley& Sons.
Kawasaki, G. (2004). The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. Toronto: Penguin Canada.