Katie Paterson knows both sides of the investment pitching game. She’s a self-professed startup junkie, has been instrumental in building a number of successful companies, and is also an investor.
But what made her invaluable to any entrepreneur listening to the podcast below is that she’s a marketer. In fact, she’s head of marketing at Espresso Capital.
Pitching is a science, and art. Make it purely rational, and you lose. Tweet This Quote
Katie’s marketing expertise brings an added perspective to her thoughts on pitching. She believes it’s critical that companies talk traction and get clear fast on the solution they’re bringing to the table. That may be something you’d expect to hear from an investor, but she also talks about the importance of storytelling and not letting charts get in the way of your narrative — a lesson most startups could take to heart.
Of course, those were just a few of the nuggets that came out of our conversation. If you’d like to hear the full chat, simply click on the podcast play button. Or, if you’d prefer a quick summary, read on.
Focus on the customer
Paterson needs to know that you know your customer. “You need to show me the face of the customer, be able to describe them as a person, and tell me all about the real problem you’re solving for them.” As she says, only by understanding the person your solution is aimed at can an investor understand if your idea is going to help that customer.
Balance talking about your idea with diving deep into the tangible benefits for real people. Tweet This Quote
By talking about the customer, you’re also bringing emotion into the pitch. Paterson, as a marketer, knows the power of feelings and intangibles. “At the end of the day, you’re pitching to people. Investors are people. And all people are moved by emotions.”
She believes companies tend to go light on describing the customer because they’re enamored by their idea. Wanting to talk bells and whistles is understandable. Every entrepreneur should be excited about what they’ve created. But Paterson believes they need to balance this with a deep dive into tangible benefits for real people.
As with every investor I’ve spoken to, Paterson also underlines the need to demonstrate traction quickly. But, she believes in describing traction as part of the narrative. Tell her about the person you’re selling to, then tell her how that person responded.
Leave the charts in the boardroom
Paterson warned about getting lost in the nitty gritty. “You only have ten minutes, don’t let numbers on the wall eat that time.”
You’re pitching to people. Investors are people, and all people are moved by emotions. Tweet This Quote
Although she personally believes a great pitch can be done without slides, she knows most companies need at least a few visuals. But don’t overburden them with information. The people sitting in the audience aren’t board members scrutinizing your financials.
“Many companies I see think bludgeoning me with information is somehow going to win the day. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pitching is a science, and an art. Make it purely rational, and you lose.”
Practicing is your job
Company founders and CEOs too often regard pitching as a distraction from the real work. Consequently, they go light on practice and preparation.
“You need to understand that pitching is vital to the success of your company,” says Paterson. “You need to, as a founder, pull yourself out of the day-to-day and devote time and attention to getting the pitch right.”
This also involves soliciting advice from outsiders on what to put into the pitch, and what to leave out. The simple act of pitching to strangers opens the door for constructive feedback and ideas that no founder should ignore.