What options does a non-native English speaker have when it comes to pitching ideas in Silicon Valley?


I've heard many anecdotes telling of pitches that convince investors at parties, in elevators, while having coffee, etc... It occurs to me that all of these pitches assume that both parties speak the same language - what options does a non-native speaker have when it comes to trying to pitch to a north american audience? Is bringing a translator along a viable option? Are there marketing people who specialize in helping deliver the message? Any other options that are (or have been) successfully used?


asked Nov 30 '10 at 13:51
426 points

3 Answers


Language is not a barrier, but there is a big misconception about the "Pitch", in my experience you dont want to just "Pitch" your idea, you first need to focus on building some rapport, strike up conversations around similar interests and then steer them towards your project. Never act needy, or shy about your financials or the ability to raise capital. Confidence, is the name of the game.

If you dont see your language or accent as a barrier, others will not either. In life, we should keep our insecurities to ourselves, otherwise we project weakness.

answered Nov 30 '10 at 18:01
2,079 points


I cannot speak for pitching Silicon Valley investors, as I have never tried it. However,
I have engaged in business talks with (Eastern European) businesspeople through a professional interpreter. It feels slow as hell, a little awkward, and emotionally un-engaging. Putting myself in the investors position, I find it hard to see how an investor could connect emotionally with an entrepreneur who talks through an interpreter. I don't think it would work.

On the other hand, if you're able to express your thoughts clearly in English, then you're good to go. Just from looking at Silicon Valley from the outside, it seems clear that the community there doesn't discriminate much based on sex, race, culture, or accent. There are plenty of successful people in the Valley who have a noticeable accent, and nobody seems to care.

answered Nov 30 '10 at 23:48
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points


I don't see this as a real barrier... there is a large number of founders in silicon valley and around the country that have English as their second language. Many of them might have a strong accent (including myself) but they can still communicate and share their vision.

If they cannot communicate in English at all, then I suppose a translator could be a viable solution but not better than learning English which is the best option, especially if a person wants to create a company in the US and be successful.

answered Nov 30 '10 at 15:22
4,815 points
  • I don't think you have an accent - your English is perfect. – Zuly Gonzalez 13 years ago
  • You are just a very nice and kind person :) – Ricardo 13 years ago

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