How much time should I devote to talking about my product in a pitch?

Most startups will know far more about their product than their market, end users, go to market strategy, or their 5-year revenue forecasts.  Given the fact that a lot of this stuff needs to be figured out with the help of the money you raise, would it make sense to spend more time talking about what you know - the product and the technology? 

One way to think about this is to put yourselves in the shoes of the investor.  If you are the seed fund partner who just helped raised a $25M fund, and are looking for seed deals of $250 or $500k a pop, what would you need to know about each startup you meet to decide whether to follow up? Would you want to hear about just the product, or would you want to get a sneak preview of how the team thinks about the whole business to get a sense of the team, their aptitude and understanding of what they are getting themselves into, and therefore, whether it is worth investing any more of your valuable time to talk to them on a follow up conversation?

Basically the startup will have to convince you, the investor, that they are

  • working in an area that is interesting and relevant to you (for example, if you invest solely in digital media and a startup comes along to pitch you on a nanotechnology play - they did not do their homework and the answer is no.)
  • there is a big enough market worth winning
  • they have an interesting and unique angle never tried beforethese are amazing humans and you must meet them properly and get to know them because they will do great things in the future. 

In light of these needs from the investor, harping on about the product and technology is rarely the most effective way to earn that critical follow up meeting. Whether it is a 2 minute pitch (to earn the 10 minute pitch) or a 10 minute pitch (to earn the partner's meetings and do the 30-45 minute pitch with Q&A), you will need to take a business-first, product-second approach to capture their imagination.  Check out this other FAQ article about recommended content for these common pitches.


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