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Are You Making This Common Pitching Mistake?

Updated: 13 hours ago

In building a business there are many milestones to achieve– one of the first being viability testing and prototyping. This is when you are going from idea to a researched and tested MVP. But what happens once you know you have a solution that provides value to the market? How do you begin to raise funding so you can commercialize or bring your idea to market? 

Avoid this common pitching mistake

This leads into the next phase: Fundraising. There are many ways to raise funds for your business. A common source of funding for product driven companies is to seek investor funding, whether from angel investors or VCs and accelerators. At this stage founders find themselves dedicating time to pitching investors for an infusion of cash and/or services in exchange for equity typically.

A Common Pitching Mistake

When pitching to investors, the focus of your presentation can significantly influence the outcome. If you don’t know what matters to an investor when they are making funding decisions, it can be easy to present pitch after pitch without ever closing the deal.

VCs don’t invest in the best idea or vision. They invest in the best teams.

They are looking for founders who have execution capability and the capacity and/or traction to generate sales. Investors want to know that you have a strong team powering your business model to profit. And yet, a common pitching mistake many startups make at this stage is highlighting the support of external agencies as their team instead of showcasing the strengths and capabilities of an internal team. This often ends up being a red flag that you don’t have a well built team.

Many startups, especially in their early pitches, tend to highlight their collaboration with external agencies or providers during VC pitches, often because they think it  adds credibility or showcases resourcefulness. However, this can backfire by shifting focus away from the core team’s capabilities and presenting investors with unwanted considerations.

That's because If you are working with external partners there are additional operational burdens that investors must then consider. When a founding team is presented as heavily reliant on external parties, investors may begin to scrutinize founders on things like:

  • How much do these external partners cost?

  • Are you able to make swift changes and innovate quickly when necessary?

  • What are the additional legal considerations that have to be accounted for when working with these external firms?

Instead of mentioning the top-tier marketing and branding agencies you hired to create your logo or the product developers you outsource, it’s better to demonstrate a robust, capable team. If you’ve been emphasizing the wrong aspects of your team, here are some steps you can take to course correct:

Shine light on the depth and breadth of your team’s skills. 

Present the qualifications and experiences of your team and how these directly contribute to your business objectives and goals. This could sound like:

“Our head of operations has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a decade of experience in operations and supply chain management within the tech industry, focusing on sustainability practices. This helps our climate tech startup commercialize at greater speeds without compromising on quality or increasing costs.”

Present specific examples of problems your team has solved or innovations they have developed. For example:

“Our internal R&D team developed a compact air quality monitoring device that uses low-cost sensors combined with a proprietary algorithm to accurately measure pollutants at a fraction of the cost of traditional equipment. The device can be easily installed on streetlights or public buildings, providing real-time air quality data accessible via a mobile app.”

Discuss how your team’s internal dynamics drive progress and adaptability, underscoring their capability to execute critical tasks without external help. Highlight the value of the team you've built for your company:

“On the business front, our VP of Business Development has successfully negotiated multiple partnerships with major industries to adopt our technology. Her strategy was formulated based on the comprehensive market analysis conducted by our internal market research team, which identifies and evaluates potential business sectors and geographies for expansion. This strategy has been pivotal in scaling our impact and was developed without the assistance of external business strategists.”

Rewriting the narrative of your team can help your pitch pass this pivotal test for investors. You can be honest about any past reliance on external agencies but emphasize the strategic shift towards strengthening internal capabilities in your pitches. Case studies and testimonials in your marketing can further drive home the value of your internal team.

Don’t have a team but want to start organizing to build one? Our toolbox of resources can help!

Our customizable contractor and operating agreements are perfect for growing your team, formalizing your business operations and protecting your startup from business liabilities. Grow with confidence with our core business templates and resources!


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