I'm hosting PitchCamp at ConvergeSouth in Greensboro, NC on Saturday Oct 2nd. The event will feature entrepreneurs and advisors to the industry on how to pitch. A training event for the area, rather than an opportunity to pitch investors.
I asked Jason Caplain, General Partner at Southern Capitol Ventures the sort of questions we will answer at PitchCamp, check them out, let me know if you'd like to appear on one of the panels, or just attend the event:
John: What are the two most important things an entrepreneur should have in mind when developing a business and a business model?
Jason: One of the most important things is to make sure you really understand the customer’s needs. Take the guesswork out of it. Talk to a lot of potential customers even before you have built a product. Ask a lot of questions and get feedback. If the first ten don’t like it, find another ten to talk with. Find out what is most important to them and better understand what they think it is worth. Build a solid and trusted relationship with them. Ask them if they would be interested in being one of your early customers once you have a product to show them.
Second, is when you have a product, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Get it out early and get a lot of feedback from users. Talk with them. Encourage them to help you shape the product’s future direction.
John: What do you think makes a great pitch?
Jason: A great pitch can often be short and when formally presenting, can be as brief as 10-15 slides. I think it is important to cover who is involved, what market you are chasing, how you are doing that and why it is important. I recommend talking about where the business has been, where it is today and future direction.
The first pitch is all about getting a second meeting. Interest the investor enough for the investor to ask to meet again. The entrepreneur should show passion for what they do and be able to clearly present.
John: What mistakes do entrepreneurs often make when pitching investors, and how can they avoid them?
Jason: I’d like to start at the very beginning of the process. Something that isn’t talked about a lot is that when calling an investor or pitching them, do the homework and really understand the investor’s strengths. Have they invested in that stage company before? Do they have a lot of experience in that industry? Have they invested in that geography before? Make sure the business lines up squarely with the investor’s experience. I am estimating a bit here but it is interesting that 80% of the entrepreneurs that cold call me and leave me voicemails at my office, don’t match up with some of our most basic criteria like geographic preferences. That means they didn’t spend the time to even go to our web site and check us out. So, invest the time and make less, but more targeted contact with investors.
Also and even better, the best way to get to pitch an investor is to get introduced by a trusted person that the investor knows. That could be a lawyer, an accountant or even one of the entrepreneurs at one of the investor’s companies. Many investors will give more attention to an entrepreneur that is referred to them by someone they know.
John: Thanks Jason! Again if you are interested in appearing on one of the panels let me know, or sign up for PitchCamp.