Every Pitch that Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
I was at an “Allocators Conference” this week in Miami for a project. The idea of an allocator conference was new to me. It’s speed dating for investors to meet investment funds. The “allocators” are from family offices, pensions, and large investor to find new investment options. It’s not startups pitching their companies.
See the 6’x8′ booths with round tables and chairs. 800+ booths of people pitching their financial products. There’s still good money in conferences.
With a break between meetings, I was in the lobby, catching up on email. I overhear a pitch. There are a lot of pitches at this event, so it’s not unusual. What’s different is the pitch is more venture than those happening here in the land of hedge funds, income funds, and fund of funds. All wrapped up in suits and ties (not me).
It’s also unusual because it’s a female founder giving the pitch! Woot! And there aren’t a lot (zero) of e-sports pitches at the event.
What wasn’t unusual was the “investor” was straight from central casting. Older guy, thinning combover, and dark gold rim glasses indoors at the convention center location <sigh>.
What caught my attention in the pitch was the answer the question the investor asked, but I didn’t hear. Her answer was notable, without change of intonation she responded – “Who is Drake?” I have to admit at that point that my ears perked up.
She went on to explain that Drake was a famous rapper and influencer and then continue to explain the merits of e-sports, the number of athletes involved, the market that has grown over the last few years… a brilliant summary.
To an unqualified investor.
Now I don’t have any judgment to either party. After the meeting broke up, a number of us around the group encouraged the founder who was pitching the deal and she took it all in stride. My comment to her is the headline to this post.
What can you learn from this meeting?
- Qualify your investors in advance of your meeting – even if it’s a referral
- Do they understand your market? If not they have to learn both the market and your business – they can learn if they have the desire to learn
- Do they understand your customer? They don’t have to be in your customer demographic, but few septuagenarians understand Twitch or how Facebook makes money
- Do they understand the stage of your company
- Your investor has to be able to repeat YOUR message to someone – it may be their spouse, business partner or in this case Elvis. If they can’t repeat your message because they are unfamiliar with the market you’re likely wasting your time
You will learn from every pitch, even the bad ones. Make the most of your time by qualifying your investors in advance.
As for me, I promise never to wear a pair of these to your pitch meeting!
Your post rings true on several levels. First and foremost is keep pitching because every pitch is different; I learn something new from every prospect interaction even if it appears to be a dead end. The second salient point is minimizing conference dead ends with prequalifying. I can’t count the number of conferences where hope was the strategy. I now only consider conferences where you have access to the attendee list so you can plot a strategy, learn about specific individuals to prequalify, and then set up meaningful meetings vs. badge surfing during the breaks.
Thanks for sharing Dave! What is your recommendation to identify qualified investors? You mentioned about the crunch base in week 1, but the investor who invested in competitors of the industry. Would there be any conflict of interest?