Google’s investment branch, Google Ventures, invests in some of the hottest companies right now. Companies you may have heard of like Uber and Periscope. Rick Klau, a Google Ventures partner, recently took to Twitter to share some great tips for entrepreneurs pitching their business to investors. His advice was focused on how critical storytelling is to a pitch, but I wonder if the bigger question isn’t what tools are used in the pitch? I’ve paraphrased some of his advice and interspersing my own opinions.
“The best decks are about the customer, not about the startup. Amazing how many startups get this wrong.”
Whether that is for a video on your home page or for a meeting to pitch investors, you always lead by identifying with the audience. Online attention spans are short, pitch meetings aren’t much different. You need to lead with how what you do benefits your customers and speak to how you solve a problem they have. No one cares about you, except for you. Sorry if this is news to you. If it is, you probably shouldn’t be pitching investors.
“The pitch is a chance to tell your story. Too many use the pitch as a chance to give a demo of every last nook & cranny of their app.”
No one wants the complete run down of every feature and function of your product, service or app. The nuts and bolts are incredibly interesting only to the developers and engineers who designed it. I once worked with a company who had spent months making a simple integration look seamless. To the end user it wasn’t worth mentioning, but the core developers were proud of what they had worked so hard to achieve. Sometimes you need to know what tells the most compelling story to engage your audience and chalk the rest up to experience.
“Identify and empathize with their problem. Explain your solution in the context of that problem. Say why you are the team to build it.”
This is all about answering the audience question “What’s In It For Me?” or WIIFM. After you identify with your audience, then you’ve earned the right to talk about how your product or service solves their problem. But you need to build that trust up front by showing you understand their problem inside and out. Ultimately that’s why you developed your super awesome solution.
“Anything that isn’t about your story should go. For every slide you start to add, ask whether it tells the story or distracts from it.”
What Rick is talking about is refining your story. Editing and then editing further to make the story as engaging as possible. A pitch deck isn’t much different from an explainer video script. You have a very short time to pique the curiosity of the audience. If you go on too long people’s attention starts to waver so you have to keep it short. Not much different than presenting to investors at a pitch meeting. I’m starting to see a theme here. Hmm…
Again most of Rick’s advice was centered on very simple storytelling tactics: focus on the audience in the story, identify WIIFM and build empathy. Obviously there are some critical aspects and information in a pitch deck you need to communicate. The question is if storytelling is among the most powerful vehicles to utilize in a pitch, does a deck of static slides or an engaging explainer video do a better job to tell your story? For companies crowd funding their ventures, an explainer video is almost always the centerpiece of getting social traction and ultimately getting funded. Why not for private investor pitch meetings? Creative storytelling is clearly underrated as a pitch vehicle. I’m just saying that maybe video is a better tool to pitch investors with and grab their attention than a static slide deck? Just something to consider.