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Pitching Investors is a Team Sport

This post was inspired by a recent Board Meeting and an answer I gave on Quora earlier this week.

I am a big believer that CEOs, and other relevant people in a company, should keep an open dialogue with potential investors — all part of investing in lines and not dots. Many of these informal conversations will be one-on-one.

However, in a recent Board Meeting, we discussed a company’s plan to accelerate a funding round and go on a ‘roadshow’ in order to meet with multiple, interested investors in quick succession. One of the key discussions we had was around who this company should take to these meetings. We had a good conversation that unearthed multiple viewpoints that I thought would be worth sharing more widely:

DO:

1) Have more than one person in meetings if you possibly can. It helps to have someone reading the room while the other is talking. It is hard for one person to do all of this on their own.

2) Make sure everyone you take owns a substantial piece of the presentation. It’s just plain weird when four people troop in and three just sit there in silence.

3) Change it up. I’ve seen teams that pitch the first time with just one or two people and then bring different people to future pitches (although you should always have consistent presence of the CEO). This shows depth of and confidence in your team which is a powerful indicator of success.

4) At least for Seed, Series A and Series B companies – one person is probably too low, two or three is perfect and four or more starts to feel a bit odd.

5) Definitely avoid taking an ‘advisor’ or a Chairperson (unless they are really an actively involved Founder who just has an odd title).  Reasons why are worth a blog-post on their own, but primarily it’s about upsetting the balance of what should be a conversation that you want to become close relationship.

DON’T:

1) Do anything if you’re the person not currently talking. It’s rude to catch up on Facebook or doing a quick bit of Amazon while your CEO/etc is talking. It’ll put investors off, because a key thing they look for is how well they think the team can continue to raise money.

2) Take someone who is generally bad at presentations, just for the sake of having them there.  Some people are needlessly argumentative, others very nervous and create a lot of tension. Don’t take them.

3) Take everyone if you’re busy.  Fund-raising is important, but it can’t get in the way of running the business or building the product.  It can also take a long time, so beware of tying up your entire team in this process for months on end.