How to make your VC pitch stand out from the crowd

It’s the question every founder wants to know the answer to. Sales Confidence asked 4 investors to tell us what makes them sit up and take notice.

In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.

Investors questions

Our first panel discussion of the afternoon session was titled:

‘Investors and founders on raising capital, managing and accelerating SaaS businesses, and what future SaaS opportunities exist in the UK and Europe’

Quite a big remit there, but I think we managed to cover it!

We were thrilled to welcome 5 experts from that arena to the SaaSGrowth stage. After they shared their tips, we had a round of questions. Our first question was:

‘You must receive a lot of cold calls and emails asking for funding. What do founders need to do to stand out from the crowd?’

It’s a great question. Most founders get to pitch to VCs by being referred by other people. If you don’t have the right contacts, how do you get to play? Attention is everything.

Barnaby Terry

Our first answer came from Barnaby Terry. Barnaby is a VC and Partner at Sussex Place Ventures, leading its activity in the software and IT services market.

He acknowledged how important this question is:

‘How do you stand out? It’s vital that you do. A lot of VCs don’t even read that kind of stuff.’

Barnaby’s suggestion?

‘Look at the portfolio of the VC you’re contacting. Reach out to one of the CEOs in that portfolio. Go for a coffee with them. Tell them that you’re thinking of raising venture capital and would like to pick their brains. If you can get an introduction from that CEO, that would be a great way to stand out.’

Steve Collins

Next came Steve Collins, Partner at Frontline Ventures. Steve invests in seed stage deep-tech software companies, with a particular interest in AI and machine learning.

‘We did some analysis on this. In the 5 years the fund has been in existence, we’ve seen about 5000 companies. Not a single one came from a cold approach, like a cold email or cold LinkedIn message. It doesn’t work.’

‘Use LinkedIn to find referrals. Through your network, you should only be one or two steps away from a VC.’

‘Go to conferences where they’re speaking and buttonhole them!’

Now might be a good time to say you can already get your tickets to SaaSGrowth2019 by clicking here!

Tim Hampson

Tim is Co-founder of SalesSeek and a long-time friend of Sales Confidence. It was great to welcome him to the SaaSGrowth stage.

As well as agreeing with what Barnaby and Steve said, he offered some further advice.

‘Invest time in your pitch deck. It really shouldn’t be more than 10–12 slides. There’s a reasonably formulaic way of doing it, to give the VCs what they want. The one thing that’s missing from almost every pitch deck I see is a realistic and honest assessment of the competition.’

Tom Lavery

Our final answer came from Tom Lavery, CEO and Founder at Jiminny, helping sales leaders coach and develop their teams.

Tom had one final thing to add.

‘Don’t think you can’t get them to come to you. Get your ranking down on Crunchbase and VCs will start to reach out to you.’

‘Also, don’t send the pitch deck until you meet them. They won’t understand it off the bat. Don’t give them something until you get something back.’

How about you?

What do you think about our investors’ answers? If you’re an investor, what are your tips to founders on how to get your attention? If you’re at a startup, what tricks did you employ to get VCs onside? Let us know down in the comments.

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