Tag Archives: Public Speaking

How to Ace a 3 Minute Pitch

Last week, I was talking with a young founder who is just starting to pitch investors. She wished she could find a good example of a 3 minute pitch.

So I figured if she was having this problem, others probably were too!

This morning, I made a little video of what I would consider an ideal 3 minute pitch. I used the example of my favorite startup, Uber.

A 3 minute pitch is a key thing to master because startup demo days are often in this format.

It’s also useful if you have brief, individual meetings with VC’s or angel investors like me. You want to pitch in a concise way and leave lots of times for questions.

Why Is This Such a Strong Pitch

  1. It’s short.
    There are just 16 slides with only a little text on each one. It takes under 3 minutes.
    I look at around 25-30 startups a week, so I can only spend so much time on each one.
  2. It clearly frames a huge problem and proposes a good solution.
    Mobility is a big issue, and long before Uber, everyone knew taking a taxi stank. This presentation clearly shows how Uber is better.
  3. It shows a clear growth trend.
    Nothing gets investors salivating like rapid growth!
    Show revenue or user growth in a chart and calculate the compounded growth rate. Make that explosive growth obvious!
  4. It shows the product.
    The same slide deck could describe 100 startups. Showing the product makes it clearer what you’re working on.
    It also shows you actually have something built!
  5. There is a clear request.
    I don’t just say “thank you for your time.” I ask the investors for something specific: $3 million.
    And I make it clear what it can achieve: us dominating the taxi industry.

    A little tip for making sure you hit the 3 minute mark is to have your phone with a stopwatch running right next to you, so you can glance over occasionally.

    I also suggest using this template from Sequoia, as I did. It gives a great framework for hitting the key points in your pitch.

    What did I miss? What questions do you have? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

    Disclaimer: I am not Travis Kalanick 🙂

    More on tech:

    The High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People

    Why I Just Invested in Kippo, Where Gamers Find Love

    How Startup Founders Turn Investors Off

    Photo: “The Ace of Spades” by Toufique E Joarder is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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The Top 3 Startup Pitch Mistakes

You’ve run through your deck a hundred times. You’ve practiced pitching to your cat.

He declined to invest.

Startup founders work incredibly hard to pitch their dream to investors and get funded.

As an angel investor, I see a lot of presentations. So, I thought I’d share the 3 biggest mistakes I see founders making:

1) Not clearly explaining what the startup does. If I don’t understand what your startup does and why within the first minute, you lost me.

Investors are people too, and struggle with attention, especially given the number of presentations they see. A demo day I attended last week had 17 companies presenting.

Don’t lose your audience! Clearly state exactly what you do and what problem you’re solving, ideally within the first 30 seconds.

Being able to clearly and concisely say what you do also helps you attract customers and key employees.

2) Not showing a growth trend.

Don’t make us guess! If you’ve got a strong growth trend in revenue or users, put that graph on the screen.

But don’t rely on our ability to read a graph that pops up for 20 seconds on a slide. Do the math for us.

If you went from $2,000 in revenue in August to $5,000 in November, use a tool like this to find your compounded monthly growth rate. In this case, it would be 36%, which is outstanding.

I saw a founder do this well at a demo day this fall. 6 weeks later, she raised a $3.5 million seed round.

This stuff works!

3) Not taking questions. If at all possible, you want to take questions from your audience.

Even short presentations can allow for this. Some demo days might provide just 7 minutes per startup. But you can present for 3 minutes and take questions for 4.

Every investor has objections you have to overcome before they invest. Give them a chance to overcome those objections by taking their questions.

Answer clearly and concisely. You should be taking about the same amount of time to answer the question as they took to ask it, no more.

I hope this helps! Fundraising can be exhausting and nervewracking, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can succeed.

Best of luck!

What have your biggest challenges been in pitching investors? Let me know in the comments at the bottom.

More on tech:

An Investor’s Dream Cold E-mail

The Biggest Challenges for Startups Now

Why I Just Invested in Kippo, Where Gamers Find Love

Photo: “Wrong Way Signs” by Arizona Department of Transportation is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Facebook/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order.