Frontfundr is a unique hybrid in the investment space. Bringing together the discipline of traditional investment firms with the adrenalin of the crowdfunding model, Frontfundr is driving investment for startups and pre-revenue companies in Canada, while bringing more ‘citizen investors’ into the game. The result is a greater sense of community and support for innovative ideas.
Jill Earthy is Frontfundr’s Chief Growth Officer. She has, in her own words, seen many, many, many pitches. For that reason, I thought she’d make an invaluable resource on the subject of what should (and should never) be in a pitch.
Pitches don’t work for 50 percent of us
Women tend to flourish in situations that are more collaborative, and less adversarial. Tweet This Quote
Whether on purpose or inadvertently, conventional pitches engender an adversarial ‘us versus them’ dynamic.
Though being able to hold up under fire has always been celebrated as a hallmark of the mental tenacity necessary to run a startup, there is growing evidence that it drives away other entrepreneurs who may be equally qualified. In particular, women tend to become more alienated.
“Less than five percent of venture capital goes to women,” Earthy reveals. “They are dramatically underrepresented in tech, and as heads of startup companies. Although there are a number of reasons for this, the traditional pitch model doesn’t help. Women tend to flourish in situations that are more collaborative, and less adversarial. That means the pitch model needs to be tweaked if we want to bring more women entrepreneurs into the game.”
Less than five percent of venture capital goes to women. Tweet This Quote
She cites new models for pitching, like speed investing, mentoring, and SheEO forums (look for my interview with SheEO CEO Vicki Saunders coming soon—sign up here so you don’t miss it!) with changing the pitch climate in a positive way. Earthy points out that Frontfundr is also taking the reins in this regard, leading a cohort of women investors who explore the ways in which the pitch process can become more inclusive.
Pitches are about people
Earthy underscores that early stage pitches aren’t about numbers. They’re about creating relationships and trust.
“I need to hear your why,” she says. “I need to feel your passion, I need you to tell me something about yourself that leaves me wanting more.”
Conventional pitches engender an adversarial ‘us versus them’ dynamic. Tweet This Quote
Like many investors, she believes the pitch begins long before money is discussed. As Thomas Ahn (another investor interviewed here) said, “Come to me for advice, and then you might get money.”
Earthy believes relationship building serves a practical purpose, above and beyond creating trust. “Your business model is probably going to shift, so I need to know the people are right,” she emphasizes. “Can you execute on this? Can you build a sustainable company? Are you coachable? Have you attracted a credible board of advisors?”
We love a surprise, we hate a surprise
When asked about the best thing she’s ever seen in a pitch, Earthy reveals that she loves when someone who appears shy suddenly radiates with passion for his or her idea. The feeling of excitement catches fire, and pulls investors to the edge of their seats.
Conversely, she says she’s witnessed too many pitches that began with great expectations destroyed by the lackluster performance of the CEO. Slide after slide, monotone presentation, too much information, and not enough storytelling all lead to bored investors and a bad outcome.
Create great bait, and we’ll come for the hook
Earthy emphasizes the importance of not including too much data in a pitch. “If you intrigue me with your story, I’ll come looking for the details.”
She believes too many entrepreneurs see the pitch as the only forum for presenting their company. As the first of many touch points, however, the pitch should be viewed as an opportunity to create intrigue, not present a complete case. Leave the heavy details for later.
Ready to connect?
Like virtually every investor I’ve interviewed, Earthy welcomes contact from entrepreneurs. Her preferred forums are Linkedin and email. Reach out if you have further questions on how to craft the most effective pitch.