Pitch Content & Format

Once you've set up a meeting with an investor, you might be wondering exactly what you should talk about in your pitch and the order in which you should present. While some creativity is always welcome, it is important that you cover the basics. Failure to do so may leave the investor with an incomplete picture of you and your company, or it may even cause the investor to think that you're an incompetent founder.  This section provides resources on these issues, and also on demo'ing your product, delivering elevator pitches, and deriving a vision and high-concept pitch.

Editor's Picks

Pitch Content & Format

Hunter Walk

The average pitch contains substantial time dedicated to the “what” and the “how.” What is the market you’re serving? What is the product you’re building? What is the customer pain you’re addressing? How will you build your product? How will you recruit a team? How will you get customers? All of these questions are essential and certainly factor into any investment decision we make. That said, “what” and “how” haven’t been sufficient to get us to YES. In the handful of investments we’ve made to date and the termsheets we generated this week (it’s been busy), there has consistently been a strong “Why” as well. Why are you taking years from your life to work on this problem? Why does your company deserve to exist and why is the world a better place when it succeeds? Founders who can answer the “why” are usually called “mission-driven.”


Hunter Walk

As a seed stage investor I’m often looking at an incomplete picture when trying to assess an opportunity. Inevitably there will be a question where the data I’m seeking isn’t something the company has yet calculated/tested, or haven’t thought to research or maybe even not as important to their business as I’m suggesting it might be. For founders, these blank spaces are great moments to stray from your standard pitch and really connect with an investor. They’re also pitfalls where I’ve seen some entrepreneurs mess up and hurt their credibility. So here are some ideas of what to tell VCs when you’re missing the data they want to see.


 Chris Dixon

Anyone who has pitched VCs knows they are obsessed with market size.  If you can’t make the case that you’re addressing a possible billion dollar market, you’ll have difficulty getting VCs to invest. Smaller, venture-style investors like angels and seed funds also prioritize market size but are usually more flexible. For early-stage companies, you should never rely on quantitative analysis to estimate market size. The only way to understand and predict large new markets is through narratives.


 Babak Nivi

 High concept pitches are great for getting your foot in the door (“It’s Friendster… for dogs!”). But once you’re in the building, pitch a bigger vision. Vision isn’t a replacement for traction and milestones. But a compelling vision helps differentiate you from the competition (i.e. every other startup pitching that investor). 


Mark Suster

I don’t think that’s what he was expecting.  Entrepreneurs get so used to friends and family congratulating them on their press coverage that they forget sometimes that this isn’t real.  A positive news story means NOTHING about the core performance of your business.  A good friend of mine was features on the front cover of the LA Times business section with a glowing article.  He had 2 weeks’ cash left in the bank and was facing massive layoffs or potentially bankruptcy. Press doesn’t mean anything other than free advertising.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pro PR but please see it for what it is and don’t think that smart or experienced people are going to see it as any more than it is either.