Blog Posts

7 Bad Pitch Personalities – Are You One?

Forgive me. I have listened to so many bad pitches over my years that I may have become a bit jaded. Well, maybe jaded may be too strong, what I really want to do is poke a little fun with the intent of using humor to make a very important point. Every one of us sometimes slips into one of these bad pitch personalities. Your pitch presentation is often the first impression that an investor, partner, future employee gets of you and the business. Don’t screw it up! Each of these bad pitch personalities highlight an approach that creates a negative impression. So which one are you? The Dreamer — The idea is so big and so perfect that no data is needed to support the thesis. Slides have big numbers and phrases that support megatrends. Finding any semblance of traction is fruitless. It’s all fluff and no meat. There is no reason for any investor to follow up. The Rookie — This pitch personality decides to change the basic pitch format that has been used for years (Hook-Problem-Solution-Traction-Market-Team-Ask, not in that particular order per se). Listeners are left wanting some answers and some idea of where this company is

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Why Bad Leaders Lose Great People

Recruiting top talent is typically one of the #1 challenge for early-stage companies and herein is why bad leaders lose great people. Why? Credibility. As an early-stage company, you don’t have a compelling story that is strong enough to convince the best candidates.  Your job as CEO is to overcome that credibility gap with your own leadership. You see great candidates have a different decision lens than average candidates. What makes a great candidate? A great candidate has a combination of: experience or experiences that are 100% relevant to today and the near future, a personality that is obvious to all during the interview process, a sharp mind that shows intellect as applied to the company’s mission, an ability to communicate effectively, and a culture fit with not just the company but the team they will be most closely working with, a radar that can spot B.S. from the truth. Therein lies your challenge as a leader, finding a way to sell the company, the vision and you without going too far and falling into the B.S. territory. My general rule of thumb is that you are allowed about 15% exaggeration over the truth. Of course, this is difficult to

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Where Will the Next Entrepreneurs Come From: “I believe the children are the future . . .”

I was lucky enough to be asked to judge an annual pitch competition in Buffalo that an organization called 43North operate every year.  The 43 North program is pretty simple; startups from around the world compete for the opportunity to win close to $5M divided into various investment sizes; $500k for 7 companies and $1M for 1 company.  This is a hefty amount of money to raise for a startup of any level of maturity. Their selection process first whittles the hundreds of applications down to 18 companies.  During the day, they pitch to a panel of 25 judges in this restored downtown auditorium.  After the judges deliberate, they select the 10 finalists who then pitch at a public event later that night.  Seven judges then select the 1 big winner, the 7 lucky winners and 2 go home empty. Over the last few months I have developed a deeper understanding of both the program and gotten to know the staff of 43 North as well as many of the local community leaders.  [Full disclosure – Techstars has an engagement with the various state and regional constituents to help grow their startup community.] Their event had over 3,000 attendees that

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