How to pitch to investors via Zoom?
Virtual pitching is here to stay. So, how do you successfully pitch investors online and raise the capital you need for your startup?
The New Era Of Virtual Pitching For Startup Fundraising
While the shift to virtual fundraising may be a welcome thing for today’s entrepreneurs, it may not be a change that many investors were ready for.
COVID changed a lot and vastly accelerated even more changes. In a new world anticipating ongoing lockdowns and new epidemics, video pitching and online meetings are here to stay.
It is a great fit for many modern entrepreneurs who have long been doing everything online and have found remote everything the most efficient way to build a business. When it comes down to how to pitch investors via Zoom, keep in mind that despite their reputation for backing innovative and disruptive game-changers, the same can’t be said for many investors and VCs.
While a new cohort of founders has been building billion-dollar businesses with 100% remote teams, investors have desperately clung to in-person meetings, flying around the world, and demanding doing business in local, physical offices.
That may still be a luxury that VCs and serial entrepreneurs with sizable previous exits can afford, but it may no longer be a process that works at scale.
To be able to pitch at the volume and scale you need to in order to get your business funded at each stage, you are going to have to learn to master virtual pitching. Whether you like it or not, that probably includes presenting over video calls.
While there are options, despite the security concerns that have been raised, Zoom seems to be a popular one. So, how to pitch to investors via Zoom?
Take Your Time To Prepare for Pitching to Investors Over Zoom
While there may be a temptation to take video meetings as casually as a Facetime call with family, with so much at risk, and to be gained, it is worth every ounce of preparation you put in.
This is a new era and format that many investors may not only not be happy about, but aren’t comfortable with. This compounds all of the usual issues with pitching; engagement, doubt, and clearly explaining the business and opportunity.
You are expecting a lot from these investors. A lot of trust, confidence, and willingness to bet their reputations and years of sacrifice, discipline, and hard work.
Being able to demonstrate a great ability to communicate with others well in this new environment will go a long way towards that. Wow them here, and you’ll give them a lot of confidence in your capabilities to raise money in the new normal and for winning customers.
VC partner and serial founder Russ Wilcox says that you should be practicing your pitch in a video setting at least a dozen times with others before your first real attempt with an investor. Post-COVID he also recommends building your pitch deck around and focusing on the finances even more. Specifically, centering on revenues, gross profit margins, net income, and exit multiples.
Make sure your pitch is second nature. Not just the pitching of your startup and the investment opportunity, but your timing, functionality of your video call software, switching between secondary devices, and any handoffs to other members of your team on the call. Take your time perfecting the art of how to pitch to investors via Zoom? And, factor in the costs of building a pitch deck.
Be Aware Of The Limitations Of Free Versions
Watch out for the limitations of free variations of software like Zoom. Are you limited on time per call, attendees, hosts, and screen sharing options? Make sure you test it and upgrade if needed.
Have backups for everything. Not just backup copies of your pitch deck, but video calling software, devices, and internet connection.
It sometimes seems inevitable that the most important call of your life is the one time when everything malfunctions. It’s the day that both your desktop and laptop crash, your mic falls into a cup of coffee, and both of your primary internet providers go down, or your primary meeting software is hacked by a foreign government.
Have multiple backups for everything. Have not two, but at least three device backups. Ensure that you have three different ways to get online, with high-speed internet.
Keep backgrounds simple and clean. To focus is on keeping the audience focused on you and engaged with what you are saying. Not snooping around your office or apartment, or wondering whether it is real or a fake background. In fact, you might be better off avoiding fake background filters which can often be glitchy and distracting.
While even bankers and doctors are working at home with dogs barking in the background and kids popping up, it is best to optimize your space as much as possible. Find a soundproof space. Invest in good lighting. Get the key elements in place when figuring out how to pitch to investors via Zoom?
Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Don’t Go Solo
If you have a team, notable advisors, and cofounders it is best not to go solo. Investors are going to want to meet and see them and hear from them too. At least bring them in for the introduction and Q&A section.
Tweak & Repeat
Start collecting feedback from investors as you go through these meetings. Look for the common themes and make tweaks to your presentation as the data lines up. Then keep on pitching until you get those wires in the bank.
You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.
Hopefully this post provided you with some perspective as you are looking into how to pitch investors via Zoom.
In the video below I cover how to pitch investors via Zoom in detail.
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FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THIS VIDEO:
Hi, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to pitch investors via Zoom. Before we get started, make sure that you hit that Subscribe button, and this way you will never miss out on any of the videos that we roll out every week.
Let’s be honest. Really, the whole thing of in-person meetings, traveling, getting into an airplane, staying at a hotel, all of that is actually changing, especially events like Coronavirus has triggered and accelerated the way that we collaborate online, the way that we can meet online, and essentially, the way that you pitch investors when you’re trying to seek an investment for your business. In today’s video, we’re going to be breaking it down step-by-step, how to go out there and how to actually pitch via Zoom. With that being said, let’s get into it.
When it comes to the new era of virtual pitching, now you’re starting to see more and more investors being comfortable with seeing founders on the other side of the screen. Before that, in the past, investors really needed to see the body language, to see the reaction of the entrepreneur when they would ask the hard questions. But now, funny enough, technology has brought everything to a point where you can, to a certain degree, replicate that offline experience and have it online.
I would say that this is definitely an advantage, too, for the entrepreneur because you get, ultimately, to reduce and optimize the cost. Now, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars. You can literally schedule your virtual meetings, let’s say via Zoom, back-to-back. Obviously, there are a ton of options. You have Skype, Google Meets, and obviously, Zoom. But Zoom, without a doubt, is probably the one that investors are using the most right now. It gives you the best image quality and the different tools that you can use there on the line, which are very essential and very effective in order to give a good sense and an idea of the investment opportunity that the founder is looking to present you with.
You’re going to need time to prepare. When you’re doing the pitch online via video, you want to be buttoned-up as much as possible. In this case, what you want to do is to remember that the attention span of the investor is very short, so you want to compress your story in the most effective and clear way that you can, so they get it in a very short amount of time.
In essence, for example, if you would do a pitch offline and it would be between 5 to 10 minutes, if you’re doing it via video, you want to make it even shorter. You want to maybe leave it at 2 minutes and immediately leave available time for the investor to ask any questions because, ultimately, what you want to do is to trigger those questions – the more questions that you get, the closer that you’re going to be to the money.
So you want to get those questions coming your way. When there are no questions, and they tell you your idea is great, that’s a red flag. That means that they probably are not that interested because you want to have those questions coming your way because those are concerns of the investor that are triggering those questions that are going to come your way. You want to not listen for the questions but listen to why they’re asking you those questions.
You’re going to be triggering those questions with a really good pitch, and that pitch needs to cover the Why, the What, and the How. The Why is how you incubated this idea. That What is the market and how it’s growing over time. And the How is how you’re executing and what are some of the accomplishments or milestones that you have been able to trigger, generate, or accomplish to date.
Next, you want to practice, and you want to practice a lot. Here, you’re going to be practicing the narrative, how you’re going to be delivering your story because storytelling is absolutely everything. But have a clear focus on the numbers. They’re going to be asking you for the numbers. How are you making your money? What’s your profit? What kind of projections are you outlining or expecting over the course of time?
And remember that at the end of the day, you need to have the story or the narrative come out in a way in which it’s not robotic. Don’t sound like you’ve memorized, and then you’re just throwing it out there. It needs to sound authentic. We live in a world now where people are craving authenticity. And remember that those investors are investing in you. Venture capital investors, specifically, invest in people versus private equity that invest in numbers. For that reason, it needs to come from the heart. It needs to come from a place in which you’re showing them that you’re living this and breathing this every single day when you get out of bed.
Be aware of the limitations of free versions. The last thing that you want is that you use Zoom and, for example, you’re not premium and past the 45-minute mark. You get locked out of the session. You get locked out of the session because you don’t have the premium subscription. So that’s a big no-no because then you’re trying to scrap things together, maybe getting all those investors into a Skype meeting or into a Google Meet meeting, switching them; there’s going to be some drop-off. Maybe they need to reschedule. Avoid that. Make sure that you’re very familiar with the technology that you’re using and with some of the limitations that come with it on those free versions.
Next is, you want to have backup of absolutely everything. You want to have a backup of your presentation in case it’s not working on your current device. Maybe you have the presentation in a pen drive that you can put together. Maybe your Google Meet is not working. You’re going to have a Skype, or you’re going to have a Zoom or visa-versa. Perhaps your phone may not work. Maybe your co-founder has another phone, or maybe you have another phone, as well, that you can use. At the end of the day, what you want to make sure of is that there’s always a Plan B so that if something is not working, for whatever reason – because technology is not 100% reliable, you want to be on a secure type of Zoom where you can jump in with a Plan B right away so that things are not going south. Really keep that in mind and always, always approach those meetings with a Plan B and a backup.
When it comes to the backgrounds, you want to keep the background clean. Putting the Golden Bridge behind you, the Eifel Tower, whatever fake background that you can come up with, I would highly recommend that you don’t do that because that is ultimately going to create distractions. You want the investor to focus on you. Remember: they’re investing in you. So that’s why you want to avoid any type of distraction that can come during the meeting, and the background is something so simple but so stupid. So just remove that from the equation, and keep the eyes on you at all times.
Next, don’t go solo. Try to avoid being on your own, especially if you know it’s an investor that is worth it. Obviously, if it’s a first call, an introductory call to see if they make sense and worth the effort, then you probably want to do it alone. But if it’s a serious conversation where you think that there could be a potential fit and that they could work out as investors, bring your co-founder or one of the members of your management team or someone that can help you because there are going to be certain questions that you may not be able to catch and this other person in your team is going to be able to catch, and you guys can support one another on some of those responses and build on top of each of those responses.
Maybe while you’re responding, your colleague can actually see the reaction of the investor. They can focus on how whatever you are saying is landing with them. Maybe there are some concerns there that are opening up from seeing the way that they are approaching your answer or the way that you’re communicating or interacting with them. Certain things that you may be missing out on. So, I think that having two people there is really great so that you’re able to cover every single angle of that meeting.
You’ve got to tweak and repeat at the end of the day. So you need to get that feedback in. You need to understand what you did well and what you didn’t do so well. Write down those questions that you’re getting – remember that the questions are always going to be the same. Those investors are meeting with your competitors. They’ve studied that market, and what is really separating them from making an investment are the concerns in-between. You need to get to the root: what are those concerns? And once you get those, money will be in the bank.
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