As most founders know, fundraising isn’t easy! The process can be long, emotional, and can be extremely difficult. To compound the problem, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the fundraising landscape literally overnight. In today’s environment, the vast majority of pitching and fundraising happens over Zoom. Founders are no longer asked to drive or fly up to San Francisco, New York, or any other big investor city saving both time and a significant amount of money traveling.
Pitching your business over Zoom has a ton of benefits and has opened a significant amount of opportunities for founders all around the world. Founders are now able to pitch 50-60 investors in a very tight window, making the processes quicker and much easier.
Effectively Pitch Over Zoom
At MCDA CCG, we have recently helped companies raise seed round funding, having coached them on pitching their business over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet and more.
We have put together these tips to help you improve your virtual pitch…
1. KNOW WHEN TO STOP TALKING
When you are in-person, it is significantly easier to get into the ebb and flow of a natural conversation. However, we have noticed that Zoom creates the tendency for founders and teammates participating to keep talking and babbling on. When an investor asks a question, directly answer the question and then stop talking. A bit of silence in between questions or between different sections of the pitch, is acceptable.
It is quite simple, just remember to stop talking.
2. DON’T INTERRUPT THE INVESTOR OR YOUR CO-FOUNDER
It is sometimes very difficult to know how should be speaking when pitching over zoom. If you are making your pitch alongside a co-founder or partner, it is wise to have a game plan ahead of time and discuss who will be answering which types of questions.
As an example, if you are the CEO, know that you are responsible to answer any questions related to finance and go-to-market strategy. If you are the CTO, know what you are responsible for any questions related to the product design and infrastructure.
And most importantly, when a potential investor begins speaking, let them fully finish talking and take a breath or two before you start talking. One or two seconds of lag or connection issues can be solved with a deep breath before speaking.
3. INCREASE ENGAGEMENT BY ASKING QUESTIONS
When pitching virtually, it is much harder for investors to remain engaged. The never ending distraction of emails, texts, and such makes it even more difficult.
Pitching over Zoom forces founders to try even harder to keep investors engaged in the conversation. Asking investors questions throughout the pitch will help keep them engaged and will pull them back into the conversation. A few simple sample questions can be useful:
- Did you get a chance to look at our deck, website, etc. before the call?
- Would it be helpful if I gave you some background on myself and my co-founder/partner before we begin?
- Have you invested in any companies in similar or tangential spaces?
- Are any of your portfolio companies using insert related technology/software/product here?
- How much do you know about the total addressable market?
Founders tend to jump right into pitch mode, speaking for 5 to 10 minutes or more without stopping, but even a quick 30 to 60-second break can help free up the conversation. Remember Item #1 – Know when to stop talking!
At the end of the conversation, it is completely acceptable to ask investors for potential customer introductions too.
4. SHOW A LIVE DEMO
One large advantage of pitching over Zoom is that it makes it extremely simple to conduct a product demo. Zoom has make it seamless and very natural to perform product demos. You will find, most investors love them.
Be prepared to show your live demo on the call, test the demo before hand to ensure it functions the way that you intend it to. This is another great way to hold engagement with your investors, and it will give them the change to get more in-depth with their questions on specific features or functions. This will allow you the opportunity to expand on how your customers are currently using your product and tell customer stories as you are addressing the features on the screen.
When conducting your demo, take your time. Make an effort to slow it down, take deep breaths throughout the demo. Again, it is wise to practice your demo with your co-founder/partner beforehand. Record yourself, watch it back, and identify areas where you can improve.
5. IMPROVE SOUND QUALITY
You want the investor to be able to clearly hear your pitch, right? Pitching from your home office or from a co-working space tends to be quite noisy. Before the call, consider installing a noise cancellation or echo removal tool.
There are a few good ones out there, here at MCDA CCG we use Krisp. These tools remove the distracting background noise, and in my case, the noise coming from the business next to my office as well as our air conditioning unit.
6. CLEAN LAPTOP OR WEB CAMERA
Before joining the call, I always recommend cleaning your laptop’s camera. You can purchase a cheap and reusable screen cleaner for less than $5 on Amazon.
For a couple of bucks, you can improve your appearance, helping you look more professional. If you find that your laptop camera just isn’t cutting it, you may want to consider purchasing a mountable camera for even higher quality.
In either case, whether you’re cleaning the camera or upgrading, the point is that you want your image quality to be presentable. No smudges, grainy image quality, or cracks that make it difficult to see you as you present.
7. UTILIZE AN ETHERNET CONNECTION WHEN POSSIBLE
I strongly recommend utilizing an ethernet cable to improve your internet connection quality. Ethernet cables can be purchases for less than $10 and provide a direct connection between your laptop/PC and your router/modem.
As with other newer laptops, like my MacBook Pro, you may need an adapter to plug in an ethernet cable. If you are a MacBook Pro fan like I am, you can purchase an ethernet adapter on Amazon for about $20.
8. HAVE A PROFESSIONAL AND CLEAN BACKGROUND
Your background can say a lot about you, both good and bad. Before connecting to the call, turn on your camera, make sure it is clean and check the room behind you to ensure it is as professional as you are. Clutter, pets, piles of dirty laundry might be ok day-to-day, but to investors, no. There are a lot of options on zoom for background filters, green screen, etc. If the situation calls for it, those are acceptable as well.
Removing added distractions in your background will only help investors focus on your startup’s pitch.
9. KEEP PITCHING
Fundraising is a numbers game. In the early stages it is very common for founders to pitch over 50 potential investors.
Oftentimes, first-time founders get discouraged after only a handful of meetings. However, it often takes 10 to 20 meetings for the pitch to really come together. And by the time you’ve reached 30 pitches, you and your co-founders will really be in sync. And don’t forget, you should schedule all of your meetings in a tight window.
Whether on Zoom, in-person, or a combination of the two, founders shouldn’t take any one particular investor too seriously. Pitching is a numbers game and founders should work to pitch as many potential investors as possible in a tight two to three-week window.
At MCDA CCG we’ve helped companies just like yours create pitch decks, pitches, and facilitation numerous introductions for companies to secure funding. If you are interested in learning more, or would like a complimentary review of your pitch, let us know. Call our office today!