When it comes to pitching investors, seeing what’s worked for other entrepreneurs who have sought investment can be incredibly helpful. We tapped some WeWork Labs members who’ve either successfully raised money or have greatly improved their pitching skills since joining the program to find out exactly how they did it. They shared their best insights and information you can put to use today.
Tailor your pitch to your audience
“I’ve noticed that pitches to VCs are usually different than pitches to angels. The main difference between pitching to VCs vs. angels is the exit strategy. I’m one of those founders who wants to be ambitious and IPO—and VCs like that. They invest with big visions in mind. Angels are okay with smaller exits. What’s more appealing to them is being able to talk about how another company could acquire you. As a founder, you need to adjust to those conversations.” —Helena Ronis, founder of VoxSnap and a member at WeWork 400 Concar Dr, San Mateo, California
Show investors that you’re willing to pivot
“You have to have a really solid idea that you believe in, but you can’t be unwilling to pivot in whatever direction you need to. I want to create the first digital space for couples and help people in relationships make better decisions faster. I have a current product that I think is great and I’m about to test in beta—but I would never follow it to the grave if it’s not working. I’ll find another way to solve the problem. Investors want to see that you’re willing to do that.”
—Jordan Scott, founder and CEO of idk tonight and a member at WeWork 175 Varick St, New York
Show your deck to fresh eyes
“It’s useful to get feedback from someone new. They can tell you which parts are clear and which are not immediately comprehensible. The opportunities I get to try my pitch on new people has been transformative. We started detecting very specific questions that people kept repeating and it helped us figure out what wasn’t working. The pitch that we use now is completely different from where we started.” —Juan Salas, CEO of Celerative and a member at WeWork 400 Concar Dr
Get comfortable with feedback
“You have to be totally fine with getting feedback when you’re practicing in front of people. There’ll be great feedback and feedback that doesn’t fit and you don’t follow, but if you’re siloed while you work on your pitch, the first time you learn about problems with your pitch will be when you’re actually pitching. You want to start in an environment where you can safely get feedback and make adjustments from there.” —Nick Lawson, CEO of Sqwad and a member at WeWork US Custom House, Portland, Oregon
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Be straightforward with your language
“A startup needs to be instantly graspable. If you find yourself pushing really hard, it’s not a good start. Stop trying to use the language that you think would be interesting for investors. If you have something that’s simple, don’t try to make it sound complicated. It’s awfully alienating to people when there are layers of jargon involved. Just say what it is or does in simple terms.”
—Fiachra Ó Comhraí, founder of Renewal Diary and a member at WeWork Charlemont Exchange, Dublin, Ireland
Prepare for the tough questions
“I’m a big fan of focusing on negative questions and preparing for questions that no one expects me to have an answer to. I recommend sitting down with one or two friends or partners who really understand your business model and finding three to 10 big pain points and writing down how you’d answer questions about them. After all, the best answers are not improvised.” —Florentina Hysenaj, founder and CEO of My Local Wedding and a member at WeWork Hanse Forum, Hamburg, Germany
Shift your mind-set
“There’s a perception among younger founders that investors are otherworldly beings or somehow different from normal people. But they’re people. They have emotions and thought processes, and the relationship isn’t one-sided. You’re not going to them asking for money—they’re getting something out of it, too. If they’re considering you, it means they see something in you. That difference in mind-set is a good confidence booster.” —Mike Moceri, CEO of MakerOS and a member at WeWork 205 Hudson St, New York
Make sure your mission is genuine
“We have a clear mission and everything stems from that. It’s a genuine mission that tackles a major social problem. That makes it quite easy to create a story and communicate around that, and it makes the pitch very powerful. A lot of times, startups are trying to stitch in a social purpose to something that’s not really very social. I think the strength of our conviction helps us communicate. So if you have a great mission, don’t shy away from it.” —Oliver Cushing, CEO of RightsDD and a member at WeWork 70 Wilson Street, London, England
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