The 4H’s of Pitching: How 2 Pitch to Investors
Across all sectors and stages of entrepreneurship, founders will all inevitably have to pitch their ventures. But not all pitches will come in the traditional form of a rehearsed presentation for investors or competition judges. Whether it’s on the biggest of stages or an in an impromptu encounter with their dream investor, how can founders present their ventures in an exciting, informative way?
In our most recent How2Tuesday event, Blank Center executive director Debi Kleiman shared her framework and best practices for successful pitching in How 2 Pitch to Investors. During her time at the Blank Center and her career prior to joining the Babson community, Debi has worked extensively as a mentor and advisor to startups refining their pitches. But in her mind, becoming comfortable pitching yourself and your work is valuable in any career and a skill that anyone can improve upon through dedicated practice!
For our audience of Babson entrepreneurs, Debi emphasized 3 important skills for pitching:
1. Develop the right pitch for the right situation: Pitches come in various forms and lengths, and it’s important to understand which type of pitch is most appropriate in a given scenario.
2. Deliver a compelling story that captures the audience and provides detail to support unique value proposition: From Debi’s experience, investors are most receptive to entrepreneurs whose passion and vision for their venture is clearly shown in the presentation. Especially when investing in early stage companies which lack significant track records, investors often rely on their gut instincts about the founders.
3. Prepare yourself to deliver a pitch that is memorable: Distilling your value proposition into its most basic elements necessary to show why your venture is special will help you communicate clearly in both pitches and marketing materials for your business.
In a 3 minute pitch about your venture, the key aspects to cover are your target market, value proposition, revenue, and team. For pre-revenue companies, projections and potential streams of revenue should be explained.
For longer form presentations, Debi has developed a pitch framework called the 4H Story Structure. These are the 4H’s you can use to structure your pitch:
- Headline: Starting your pitch with 5-9 words capturing what your company does, giving your audience a frame of reference for the slides to follow.
- Heart: Appealing to the emotions of the audience, in this section of the pitch you should explain why you were inspired to start your company. As Debi says, this answers the question, “Why are you uniquely motivated and qualified to solve this problem?”
- Head: This section of your pitch involves all of the rational information which investors must know about your venture: What do you do? How does it work? What is your business model and revenue thus far?
- Hope: As you bring your pitch to a close, leave the audience with an inspiring vision for the impact your venture hopes to make in the world. This could resonate not only with potential investors, but future collaborators and advisors as well.
What happens if your carefully prepared pitch is interrupted? Debi explained that investors interrupting your presentation can be a good thing because it shows they’re engaged, but you need to be prepared to both pitch without your slides and to answer their questions. Debi’s advice for investor Q&A: “Know your numbers and anticipate their exact questions!” Debi emphasized the importance of practicing Q&A with someone outside of your business and having an appendix in your deck with the key metrics you expect to be asked about.
To wrap up, Debi stressed the importance of etiquette and following up with potential investors: “If you say you’re going to get back to them about a question they had, be sure to do so! This is also a great way to continue the conversation with them.”
We hope you enjoyed these insights from Debi’s talk, and that you check out the Blank Center’s How 2 Tuesday events throughout the semester! On Tuesday, October 8, we’ll be hosting How 2 Position Your Brand So It Better Connects & Converts with brand strategist Doug Fox. Register for the event at https://h2position.eventbrite.com, and check out this semester’s entire How 2 Tuesdays schedule at http://bit.ly/2019h2tuesdays.