Maire Shanahan Raniga is an Australian businesswoman who runs four e-commerce brands, here she shares her experience of pitching to a VC investor for the first time at Hubud, the Hub-in-Ubud in Bali.
Why would someone decide to take part in a VC pitch the night before an investor is coming to town? I’ve been asking myself that question since I signed up to take part in one in Bali the other week. Less than 24 hours before it was time to pitch and I fired off an email to the organisers and soon afterward my slot was confirmed.
There was only one issue. I’ve never pitched before and I had done no preparation. I’m the last person to want to take to the stage and pick up a microphone: I generally make a point of avoiding public speaking at all costs, but this year I’m on a mission to challenge myself in new ways. And the spontaneous pitch decision was a challenge. But was I up to it? Well I didn’t get any money, but here’s what I learned:
Lesson number 1
Know why you are pitching. This sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s tempting to pitch for the wrong reasons, is it because you want validation for you or your business? Do you actually need the money and have a plan for it? Or could you self-fund? Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and no, ego massaging doesn’t count.
Lesson number 2
They don’t care about your idea. Well, they do care a bit. But the pitch is mostly about proving your credibility and determining how much money you need, how much money you’re going to make and when they’re going to get their money back.
Lesson number 3
Know your figure. Pitching is a bit like going to the bank and asking for a loan. You need to state how much you need. You don’t say: “how much do you think I need?” Your role as startup founder is to have the answers, not to shrug and ask questions. You need to be able to confidently state how much you need and why you need that amount.
Lesson number 4
Try to secure a slot before your VC gets jaded. However professional they say they are, we all get a bit worse for wear when we’ve been sitting in the same spot for four hours. People’s attention spans are limited. And thanks to smartphones, humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, according to a recent Microsoft study. Your VC guy or girl may be smart, but they’re probably not much better than your average human when it comes to hearing you out. So either bagsie an early slot, or make sure the air conditioning is turned up high.