Watching and learning

Last night I got to sit in and watch companies pitch to an angel network from CTEK. It was an amazing learning opportunity for us. Here are some of the things that really stood out:

Know your business

Last night one of the presenters made the following comment:

“We don’t track anything. I couldn’t tell you how many people use our product”.

What!?! Are you kidding me?

Contrast this to another presenter that stood up and demonstrated that they knew their business inside and out. They knew everything about their customers – where they live, where they shop, what they like. They knew the size of their market and had a reasonable strategy for increasing their share of it. They knew their business model. They measured and evaluated everything. They knew exactly how much it cost to move their product into a new region and they knew how much revenue that would bring in. They had a mathematical justification for how much of a return you should expect from your investment.

Which company would you trust with your money?

Know your pitch

Know your pitch! This seems like it would be intuitive, right? Last night I saw a CEO get up in front on everyone and just start rambling. Another one kept turning around and reading from his PowerPoint. By doing this he:

  • Showed that he didn’t know his numbers very well
  • Communicated that he didn’t take the time to prepare
  • Missed out on crucial eye contact that would have allowed him to connect to his audience and get instant feedback on what he was saying.

Your pitch should be clear and should answer the big questions right away. At the very least I should understand:

  • What you do
  • Who your customer is
  • How many customers you can realistically reach
  • How you plan to reach them

If you get done with your pitch and someone has to ask you what you do, I doubt they’re going to give you any money. And yes, this really happened.

Know your audience

I realized last night how important it is to pitch to people who know your industry and can understand your business.

One of the presenters did a great job outlining their strategy, their competitive advantage and their knowledge of their business. The problem was that no one else in the room knew anything about their industry. They could be sitting on an amazing opportunity, but it wouldn’t matter. No one is going to invest in something they don’t understand.

It pays to find people who get what you’re doing.