Nov 2, 2015

3 Questions to Ask before you Present on Demo Day?

In October, 8 agri-business startups had their Demo Day in Mumbai. I was invited by my alma mater (which had incubated these startups) to help these startups with their pitches. In this post I share what I learned from first, helping these startups and second, by seeing them pitch live on Demo Day.

Before you begin preparing for your demo day, you need to ask the following questions:

  1. What are my constraints?
  2. What does the investor expect from me?
  3. What do I expect from this pitch?

What were the constraints?

Time was the only constraint. Each startup was given only 8 minutes. The organizer stopped the presenter when the time was up. This was followed by a Q&A of 5 minutes in which 4 or 5 investors asked questions.

Actually this was a good constraint to have. The more you speak, the lesser the audience will remember. Even with 8 minutes, the investors had to listen for 64 minutes (8 x 8). That's a lot of new information about 8 new startups. They can hardly be expected to remember much.

How do you stand out here? Share what business you are in with complete clarity. Make sure you say 2 or 3 remarkable things, which make you stand out. If you are lucky the investor will remember atleast one of these and this will be the conversation starter during lunch / dinner.

What did the investor expect from these startups?

Clarity about their business. No investor will decide to invest in a company after listening to an eight minute pitch. The pitch is only to get them excited enough. It is like the movie trailer which shows you glimpses of the story, introduces the characters and makes you wanting for more. It intrigues the audience and draws them in.

The investors wanted to know what business you were in, how large is the market, how are you going to make money, who are the team members and how is your offering different from your competition.

This was evident from the questions the investors asked the startups. Actually I am going to share the investor questions in my next post. The questions asked by investors provides us a window into their minds and how they think.

So as a startup, all you need to do is to explain the basics of your business. Clarity is what you must aim at. You do not want the investor to meet you after the pitch and ask, "What does your company actually do?"

What can you expect from this pitch?

You should aim to pique the interest of as many investors as possible. Typically at the end of all the pitches, the investors and startups mingle over food and drinks. This is where you want most investors to come towards you and ask you relevant questions about your business. All you should want is that they come to you and talk to you

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