Things you need to have ready to pitch


I love the advice on Venture Hacks about confining the time you're out pitching to set amount (e.g., six weeks). Basically, kick it off and then run as fast as you can with as many people as possible for a short amount of time (full details here: ). My question is, what should you prepare prior to doing this?

It seems like you'll need the following for sure:

-Pitch deck with a clear ask for a certain amount of money
-Individuals lined up for possible reference checks
-Stats available to give to VCs (e.g., Analytics Dashboard, etc.)

What about financial projections? How detailed do these need to be at the early stages to get a term sheet?

What else might you need? We're planning to go out soon and want to get all our ducks in a row to make it as quick of a process as possible.


asked Nov 8 '09 at 19:19
Tommy Maddox
156 points
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3 Answers


A few tips:

  1. Agreed about a set time for official pitching, but pitch "friendlies" as often as possible until then. That means friends, family, and anyone "business-y" who's been involved on either end of the pitching table.
  2. If you can get your pitch down to a 30-second description, then 60-second follow-up, you know what you're doing. Everything else is embellishment. Yes you'll be talking to investors for 60-90 minutes, but if you can't summarize you don't have a consistent, understandable story.
  3. Work on specifics, not general statements. Don't say "We'll use social media," say exactly how.
  4. Any part of your pitch that most other companies (especially competitors) would say, is a weak point.
  5. The tips here are for Angel investors specifically, but it's still good advice.
answered Nov 9 '09 at 04:38
16,231 points


For me, a pitch should have the following sections:

  1. Title Page (1 slide): The title page frames your pitch. It should have the name of the venture, your tag line and maybe a quote from a customer. This introduces you and it will be the first slide investors see. Make it your lede to the great company you just created.
  2. Team (1 slide): Introduce your team. CEO at the top, followed by 2-3 additional executives. These should be brief bios that contain information relevant to the venture. Include companies worked for with an emphases on any that were investor backed (including ones that had successful exists).
  3. Market Overview (1-2 slide): A general overview of your ventures primary market. These slides should have both US and World Wide (WW) market numbers. Describe the market in easy to understand terms. It is also a good idea to explain the market dynamics and growth rates. What factors, in a macro economic sense, drive your markets growth.
  4. Market Pain or Need (1-2 slides): Capture the need or pain the marketplace. This is where you start to craft the story as to why your product or service will garner sales.
  5. Product Offering (1-2 slide): Once the need is described, the next step is how you will address it. Summarize your offering in an easy to understand way. Don’t use a lot of buzz words. Do use some industry specific jargon that has been properly defined. If you are uncomfortable with that, then just use plain simple language.
  6. Technology (1-3 slides): These slides should explain the essence of your technology and why it is different than the present start of the art. If your venture does not have a special technology component then explain your unique approach. This section is also a great place to put any issued or pending patents.
  7. Customer Traction (1 slide): If you have lead customers that are willing to talk to investors, then add a slide for them. Just 2-3 top customers, preferably ones that are leading in the marketplace.
  8. Schedule, Milestones and Funding Needs (1 slide): A graphical representation of the schedule, milestones and funding required. You should include the major milestones that the investment will be used for along with follow on rounds that get you to an exit event (like purchase or IPO).
  9. Financials (1 slide): Include 5 years of financial projections including: Total Revenue, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), Gross Margin $ and % of Total Revenue, Net Income $ and % of Total Revenue, Units sold, Unit ASP and Projected Market share. All of these numbers should come from your Financial Model.
  10. Thank You / Q&A (1 slide): This last slide should have your contact info. You may never get to it but putting it up on the screen during a question time allows your audience to remember who you were.
  11. Appendix (Optional): There is no harm in putting backup slides in the appendix. You may never get to them them but if a question arises, it is perfectly acceptable to jump to the appendix. Appendix slides should have more details than your normal pitch slides. They can bend the rules of form and function.

Total number of slides should be like 12-14 (not including backups).

answered Nov 9 '09 at 04:13
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


As a branding and marketing guy, I have met with many startups during my career. I have either pitched them prior to funding or after they have secured their angel or first round.

I believe if you have a prototype of your product and if you have gone through a minimal (and the emphasis here is on minimal) amount of your branding exercise you will have a much better chance.

By branding exercise I mean developing:

  • Your brand messaging, which in a very concise way tells the audience what you do, who the target audience is and how you are different or better than existing alternatives.
  • Brand design, which gives your company a polished look and image from the company identity to presentation and of course the UI for the prototype.
answered Nov 19 '09 at 07:04
Arman Arami
399 points

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