We’re at the low watermark for startup pitches. It’s really bad and just seems to be getting worse.
That’s the sentiment of Bryce Roberts, a venture capitalist who’s been investing for 11 years. A cofounder of O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Bryce believes that entrepreneurs suck at pitching their startups to investors these days.
“You’d think that given the sheer volume of material written about how to pitch your company to investors that we’d be in the midst of some sort of golden age for the startup pitch,” he writes on his blog. “Clear concise value propositions, crisp tales of product market fit (or failed attempts at discovery), direct asks for how much is being raised and what’s hoped to be validated. The canon of fundraising content is so vast, many would claim it’s complete, even overdone.”
Yet this is clearly not the case, he says.
Of the 3 to 5 new pitch meetings a day I take, most founders can’t be bothered to put any type of framework around the conversation (PPT slides, Exec Summary, anything), many consider “demoing the product” to be pulling up a browser and clicking around aimlessly while trying to describe what they’ve built, when asked what they’re are looking for in a new investor, most respond “speed, so we can get back to building the product”. I block out 30 min for these meetings, most can wrap up in 10.
“Here’s an idea, if raising money is such a bother, then build products that don’t require you to do it,” Bryce continues. “If you half-ass it with an investor, you’re likely half-assing it elsewhere in your business.”
Not everyone agrees with him though. Badjer cofounder Brandon Burns has received dozens of upvotes for his comment against Bryce’s opinion.
“You’re the source of your own problem,” Brandon argues. “Yes, there’s a lot of info on how to pitch. It is also very fragmented, with highly varying and conflicting opinions. How is someone to know if you’re a ‘just show me the link’ guy vs. a ‘gimme the 50 slide biz plan’ guy? Try this for a change: when you set up a meeting with an entrepreneur, tell them what you want them to have prepared when they show up. Communication is key.”