Last night Dr. Phil Zimbardo, famous Stanford Psychologist and TED speaker, captivated his audience with a pitch about Heroic Imagination. The company literally helps save lives, but Dr. Zimbardo didn’t start his pitch with the service; instead, he first acknowledged investors’ need for social impact, then he said his company could help them achieve impact.
The best pitch intros appeal to investors. This hook either precedes the problem or is the problem. For social ventures like Heroic Imagination, you can acknowledge investors’ need for impact, then position your problem and solution as the means to achieving that impact. That was Dr. Zimbardo’s path.
For private ventures, the investor hook is low risk/high return. Last night, investors identified three things that immediately captured their attention:
Products that were already deployed. Paraphrasing the words of Guy Kawasaki, an investor would rather see a product without a pitch than a pitch without a product, in part because a product lowers the risk that your team can deliver. This is not about describing your product, which comes later. This is simply about saying your product is already up and running. Following this short statement, you’re free to outline the problem.
Traction. We all know it. The insight for you is that when you show you’re already engaged with customers, investors will engage with you to understand why. This is not about describing your market or going into the business details upfront. It’s as easy as starting like this: “Today we have 20 customers. Through our pitch, we’ll show you why.”
Relating to the audience. Most great pitches dive into the problem immediately after hooking the audience. The problem can also act as the hook if you make it meaningful to investors. For example, it’s one thing to start your problem by saying, “sometimes people collapse on the street and no one helps them.” It’s entirely different to start with these words, “imagine if your son or daughter collapsed on the street and no one helped them.” When the problem becomes personal, investors are more likely to tune into the value of your product.
Investors want to invest in products that achieve their goals. These goals are high impact and low risk/high return. The next time you step into a meeting, make your first couple sentences appeal to these needs. When you do, you’ll engage them.