Fundraising is challenging, especially for deep tech founders who need to get investors excited about a complex technology, a complex sales cycle and a complex risk profile.
As a former investor and current angel investor, I have met thousands of founders, many in the deep tech space.
Based on my experience, here’s how to avoid making the most common mistakes deep tech founders make when pitching investors:
Work on your storytelling
Highlight your big vision
Early-stage investors are in the business of funding dreams. They chose to be early-stage investors because they love hearing about new ideas and enthralling futures. They deliberately are not investment bankers or accountants because they do not want to constantly pour over endless spreadsheets or dive deep into financial models. Similarly, they are not operators because they do not want to spend time figuring out the intricacies of a supply chain or a marketing campaign or the configuration of a product component.
Make your pitch tailored to what excites venture capital investors and avoid what does not.
So make your pitch tailored to what excites venture capital investors and avoid what does not. Keep the financial model details and the warehouse system logistics information to your Appendix. You have it in case anyone wants to dive in deeper, but your core presentation should be focused on your biggest, most bullish hopes for the company seven to 10 years from now. Dedicate multiple slides to painting the picture of what society would look like should you meet all your intended milestones as a company.
Underscore the impact
As a deep tech company, your differentiation is in your intellectual property. However, investors care less about the “what” and much more about the “so what.” Investors are less interested in the intricacies of your technology and more interested in what impact it can create.
Formulate your slides to focus on answering questions like, “What can people or companies do as a result of your technology?” and “How will people save time, money and lives with your product?”
Put your presentation to the “grandma” test. Would your grandmother be able to understand and be excited about everything you share? Investor pitch meetings are not dissertation defenses. You are being evaluated on your potential for impact rather than the intricate details of your research. The best way to succeed in this evaluation framework is to ensure that everything you share is relevant and exciting to a diverse audience of even nontechnical folks.
Try to reach hearts and minds
Five million people are a statistic, but one person is a story. When people read data on massive populations of people, they conceptually understand the implications but only on a logical level, not an emotional one. When pitching, you want to reach the hearts of investors.