As lockdown restrictions loosen, businesses are assessing the future of work. And, in VC circles, there’s no doubt that a year of remote working has changed things for good. The days of encouraging founders to fly around the world in order to meet each prospective investor in person feels obsolete and irresponsible. Remote pitching, therefore, is here to stay.
This is something to celebrate. The last year and its forced transition to remote pitching have made VCs easier to access and more generous with their time. At my fund, we’re excited about retaining this new way of engaging with start-ups. If you’re getting ready for a remote pitch, then here are 4 things you need to know:
Keep the pitch deck simple. Very simple.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a straightforward and digestible pitch deck.
Some investors won’t have read it through in advance of the meeting and having them trying to wade through reams of information whilst listening to your pitch can be distracting.
Let the pitch deck back up what you’re saying, rather than dictate or distract from it. Simple, well-designed slides need to convey the most important information. An appendix can be included for the weightier data or more complex details.
However, when the deck is simple, it does mean you need to be ready to provide the detail. Make sure you know your facts and figures inside out. But if a number escapes you or isn’t to hand, don’t panic or be tempted to make one up. Instead, promise to follow-up via email with the right information.
Get your tech sorted
It seems obvious after a year of remote working, but so many people still faux pas on the tech side. Make sure you have a back-up plan in place in case your WiFi drops out. Share the deck materials with the VC team beforehand so they have a copy should your screen sharing not work. Put your phone on silent. And, crucially, close all other tabs. You’d be amazed at how many of our pitch presentations have been interrupted by Slack or WhatsApp desktop pings, or the tabs we’ve seen when the entrepreneur clicks share screen!
Stand out in the right way
Each VC is different, so do your research and think about whether there are any creative ways you can approach the pitch which will suit them.
Do they regularly tweet about loving big and bold ideas? Perhaps consider something more dynamic than a PowerPoint presentation. Is their fund ethos based on sustainability credentials? Then don’t send them a ton of printed materials or products surrounded by unnecessary packaging before your pitch. Do your research and try and align your pitching approach to the people you’ll be meeting. Can’t find any helpful hints in that regard? Then resist the theatrics and play it safe.
Don’t give us any reason to doubt you
Building trust and rapport over a video call can be tough. It’s therefore important to use every opportunity you have to demonstrate that you’re reliable, trustworthy, and honest. Don’t be late for calls and communicate in a professional, timely manner. Proactively provide references so VCs can talk to any existing investors, advisors, or former employers. And never hide or exaggerate information or underplay risks. Nearly everything will come out in due diligence anyway, meaning any untruths or white lies you tell to boost your chances of securing interest will come back to bite you in the end.