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You're probably overcomplicating your pitch. Here are 2 tips to help

Jason Yeh
July 16, 2021

No matter how much I push founders to simplify their pitch, they almost always can simplify it even further. There are a multitude of reasons why this happens: 

  1. Not realizing the pitch is more about emotions than data (I will convince this investor with pure logic and numbers alone are the answer!)
  2. Suffering from Imposter Syndrome (They won’t think I’m good enough unless I add more information to prove I’m smart)
  3. Confusing complexity with quality (Our product is so sophisticated. I need to show how deep and complex it is!)
  4. Wanting to be clever (Here’s a fun, 3-word, hyphenated way to describe what my company does! ☠️😵)
  5. Adding “choose your own adventure” scenarios (I’ll put a variety of elements in to excite a wide range of investors)
  6. Thinking the deck needs to close an investment on its own and answer every question (Let’s include every detail and make the deck 30 slides long)
  7. Wanting everyone to like you / the pitch (I’m afraid of rejection so I’ll try to add things that everyone will like)

These are typical mistakes that will make it even more challenging to get an investor interested in your deal. In order to avoid many of these pitfalls, remember these two tips:

Pitch the circle, not the equation

During your first pitch, you should be describing the problem you’re solving, the market you're helping, and the product you’ve created in ways that can be understood as easily as possible. Remove as much thinking as possible. Extra deliberation, scrutiny, and questions can come in a follow-up, but focus on simplicity for your first pitch. If you were trying to pitch a circle, you could wow people with your understanding of geometric equations and pitch it as an infinitely-sided polygon (ooh clever!)… or you could just show a picture of a circle. To a founder, that picture might feel like an over-simplification. It might not represent the sophistication and all the work that went into creating the circle. However, those things need to be set aside in favor of simplicity and clarity. You want an investor to get it immediately and then follow up to test the sophistication and subtlety of it all.

Think about pitching the circle, not the equation.

Avoid “choose your own adventure” pitches

The fear of rejection will often compel founders to add way too much to their pitches. They’ll think “If I don’t include these details, investors will pass” and then pack it with every nuance needed to make an investment decision. Or they’ll consider multiple types of investors and add a variety of elements to the pitch so anyone can choose the narrative that best suits their investment thesis.

Think about your pitch as a very unique treasure map. It defines a specific path to finding the treasure of a massive company. Not everyone will agree with your map but by looking at it, an investor will at least understand how you think about getting to that end goal. Additionally, if they’re excited by the idea of this treasure map, they’ll ask questions about parts of the map to better understand the journey ahead.

When someone has been hunting for a treasure like you describe, seeing a specific map to find that treasure will REALLY get them excited. On the other hand, if an investor likes the idea of a treasure, but it’s listed in a menu of options without conviction, there won’t be enough to excite them. Most investors won’t hate the pitch since it included something they liked as an option, but no one will get excited enough to take the plunge.

Don’t provide a menu of options. Have a very specific, treasure map pitch that will hook the investors who have been looking to join that specific type of adventure. 

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