Capital Factory, Jason Cohen observed that many of the startup pitches he heard shared the same mistakes. The mistakes were so common, he suggested that by avoiding even one of the mistakes, applicants really stood out from the crowd.After reviewing several hundred applications for the Austin-based incubator
As Cohen noted, it's a result of seeing so many pitches that investors can offer insights into what works and what doesn't work in a pitch. Here are a few of the most common mistakes that Cohen along with other investors list:
1. The pitch lacks clarity
You should be able to give a clear description of what your company does - what needs it meets and how it does so. This should be short and succinct - think "elevator pitch."
2. You don't talk about your team
As Chris Dixon suggests, you want to pitch yourself not your ideas. In other words, it's important to be able to describe what it is about you and your team that gives you the skills to accomplish your business's goals. Highlight what you've done in your past in order to demonstrate your abilities.
3. The pitch focuses on the technology at the expense of addressing the problem it addresses or the solution it offers
You can have developed some amazing technology, but your pitch needs to do more than tout its brilliance. You need to link that technology to a problem and explain why it's the right solution.
4. The pitch doesn't address the market
Your business should solve a problem, yes, but you also need to establish that there's a market for the solution you offer. Simply because you've built the technology doesn't mean you're automatically going to have generated customers. Who are your customers? How are you going to reach them and convince them to adopt your technology?
5. You ignore the competition
VC Santi Subotovsky points to this in his list of common pitch mistakes. He cautions entrepreneurs again "Ignoring the competition with statements such as 'nobody is doing it.'" "When entrepreneurs say they don't have any competitors," he writes, "then VCs think they haven't done enough due diligence or they have a completely revolutionary solution that is going to change the world. Most of the time, unfortunately, the first explanation is correct."
6. The pitch offers invalid competitive advantages
Jason Cohen lists this as one of the most frequent mistakes he sees. He explains that the following are not competitive advantages:
7. Your delivery is bad
Investor Greg Gretsch's list of common pitch mistakes, he admits, contains a lot of things he notices in terms of the style, not just the content, of the pitch. "But then, since the majority of the investment decision for me is based on the people, the style and delivery issues are very clear windows into the most important content of all - the entrepreneur." Gretsch points to problems like excessive name-dropping, over-complicating, and defensiveness as potential red flags.
As we wrote earlier this year, it's important to do your homework before pitching to investors, so you understand their history and their portfolio. This homework might also help you identify some of the things they want - and don't want - to see in a pitch.