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What’s the biggest pitching mistake entrepreneurs make?

Trevor Oelschig pitching mistake Trevor Oelschig pitching mistake

Pitching to investors is difficult. Here are 4 tips from an experienced venture capitalist to help you secure investment for your startup.

1. The idea isn’t the hard part

The most frequent fatal pitching mistake I see entrepreneurs make is that they are just too protective or secretive of their idea.

The idea itself isn’t the hard part. It’s making it real that is the challenge.

It’s impossible to build a business in a vacuum. You need to talk to people and iterate. You need to get what you’re building into the wild and get feedback from the market.

At the most basic level, it’s really hard to engage in a conversation when you’re not telling somebody what you’re actually building.

Just remember to avoid this fatal pitching mistake, the idea isn’t the hard part.

2. Tell the story

Get people to understand what you’re building. Share your story. Avoid the pitching mistake of not doing so early-on in a conversation.

What made you drop everything to build this? What was that moment? And why are you obsessed with it?

Bring me closer to your business. I may not be an expert in your market and I may not share the same specific passion for your idea but bring me into your process of taking that big leap of faith. It will make it easier for investors to take that leap of faith with you.

Avoid the pitching mistake of not being authentic. Let your passion come out. Great entrepreneurs do this. I find it to be especially compelling.

Virtually every entrepreneur who I’ve invested in has—by virtue of telling their story—created a personal connection to what they are building.

3. Inspire, resilience and high fidelity

Investors are ultimately deciding whether a business has all the right elements to be a good bet.

It’s about product, the market, and distribution. All of these things hinge on the entrepreneur.

There’s specific DNA in an entrepreneur that I tend to gravitate towards.

They’re inspiring. Entrepreneurs have to convince all types of people: customers, future employees and partners—all to take a risk and go on this journey with you.

The most frequent fatal pitching mistake I see entrepreneurs do is that they are just too protective or secretive of their idea.

Avoid the pitching mistake of thinking that you must be a Type A person. In fact, they don’t have to be this “big voice in the room”-type of person to actually be effective.

The entrepreneurs I like are also really resilient. They show tenacity. They’re extremely focused on what they want to build, despite the invariable ups and downs.

The other point is high fidelity. It’s critical to understand your business and your market in all of its facets.

You don’t need to have all the answers with precision, but you do need to have a level of fidelity around each of the moving pieces and the overall market dynamics.

I need to have confidence that you can navigate it all.

4. Get investor attention with your product

Today it is possible to cobble together a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), get it into the market, and iterate upon it.

You can do all of this before going out to raise any meaningful amount of capital.

The best way to get VCs to notice you is to get your product into the market and ‘wow’ people with it.

If you do it right, the investors will end up chasing you!