10 Ways to Improve Your Startup Pitch

1. Be confident and realize that you are pitching at all times.  I can't tell you how many times I'm at a social event and someone tells me about their startup with the pitch equivilent of a "wet noodle" handshake.  Everytime you tell someone what you do, that's a pitch.  Knock it out of the park every time. 

2. Tell me something you learned about the market or your users--shows you are adaptable.  The worst thing an entrepreneur can do is be "strong and wrong".  The best ideas are iterated on constantly--and the last person an investor wants to talk with their company about is someone who can't take feedback.

3. Tell me who you can partner with and why this is a priority for them.  It is so incredibly difficult to build traffic or revenues from scratch.  Partnerships are often the key to your uptake--so help investors understand who else in the market would be willing to work with you.

4. Who currently supports what you're doing with real action?  Has anyone made a bet on you, or does the investor need to be the first one in the pool?  Employees working for sweat equity, customer committments, family and friends willing to break their piggybanks for you--anything to make it so that the person you're talking to doesn't feel like Will Ferrell--naked in the town square with no one running behind him.

5. Show investors that you understand how to get users economically in a way that supports the model.  For example, I can't tell you how many products I've seen that offer $10-50/month subscription fees and the company tells me about going the direct sales route.  That would only work if your salespeople are willing to eat bread and water... and not particularly often. 

6. Convince investors that you are obsessed with the problem you are solving.  This needs no explanation, but is often lacking.

7. What have you learned from your competitors--know them like the back of your hand.  If an investor asks you, "Do you know the folks doing "x"?" and "x" is anything having to do with your business whatsoever, the answer better be yes, and you better know how you're better than them, can learn from them, or can work with them... and preferably you already have spoken with them.

8. Know your realistic, addressable market.  If you're selling potato peelers and only 10 million people in the country eat potatos, don't say you're going to sell 8 million peelers in year one.

9. Appreciate the feedback.  If you tell someone about your business, expect a reaction.  You might not like the reaction, but all feedback is good.  Don't try to debate people--just respond cordially with facts or assumptions that answer their question.  If you don't have those, don't start shovelling and never, ever, dismiss anyone's feedback.

10. Come see David Rose at Fordham this Thursday, March 12, 2009:

On Thursday, New York's most active community participant from the investment side, David Rose, will be at Fordham talking about pitching and raising angel capital.   David is the founder of NY Angels and runs RoseTech Ventures.  RoseTech also operates an incubator on 23rd Street and is a renowned pitch coach as well.

We will also be letting 5 companies give their two minute elevator pitch (and we really mean two minutes) for David to critique.

Date:     Thursday, March 12
Time:     06:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Organizer:      Fordham TEC

Fordham University Graduate School of Business
   33 West 60th Street 12th Floor
   New York, NY - 10023, USA

RSVP here (req'd):  http://gbadirect.bnet.fordham.edu/vo/fbd1/cal/rsvp0.aspx?ID=3839