7 Steps for Getting Past the Pitch

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About half of all the companies I do work for, or work with, are early stage start-ups, particularly in the agritech, bioscience, technology, specialist manufacturing, aerospace or clean/greentech sectors. Many of these seek funding either through an investor, or a grant. In both of these cases, they are required to formulate a pitch and deliver it. Typically if a company approaches me before they pitch, I will assist them in the formulation and delivery aspects, so they are better polished.

Recently the Los Angeles area was abuzz (as it will again soon with TechWeek) with events around the Innovate Pasadena and Innovation Week in Los Angeles events – with loads of networking and pitching opportunities for young companies. It created a lot of energy within the start-up community, and mingling with investors, influencers and other innovators gave untold opportunity and direction to start-up decision makers.

During the events I was approached by several companies to assist them in their endeavors to get funding. I also approached others I saw during their pitch presentations, where I saw they needed some help in getting a better presentation and slide deck.

By any measurement, getting in front of investors is a great thing and a success that should be celebrated. However, if you’re doing multiple presentations a week and you’re measuring your success in volume of investors you’ve pitched to, there may be a disconnect. “We’ve pitched to six investors this week alone, and have averaged about 3 per week for the last three months” was a typical story. It’s awesome, sure, but have you landed a deal? Have you been asked back? Have these investors even called or emailed and asked for additional information? In all these cases the answer was a resounding, no. If the net effect of pitching is to score an investment deal, then clearly something isn’t happening. There are no brownie points for accumulating the most numbers of investor pitches.


If you haven’t gotten past the pitch, one of the following may be happening:

1. Are you asking the right investor? “Horses for courses” the saying goes, and so it is for investors. Merely getting in front of any investor just to deliver a pitch is not the way to find investment. Further, be discerning: find an investor that is going to work well with you.

2. Have you asked for the right amount? Should I ask for a lot, or ask for small amounts? I suggest looking at your needs and working backwards. Even better if you can elaborate the purpose you will be using the investment for, and the speed with which you will grow, the scale and overall performance based on clear goals and benchmarks.

3. Have you listened to the feedback given to you? Listen to the advice given by the last investors you pitched to, and make the appropriate changes to your presentation. It may be obvious and sage advice, but take the advice, talk it over with the team and your consultants, and make the changes you need to re-pitch.

4. Are you ‘ready’? This may seem like a no-brainer, but many companies, while they have a good technology and it has emerged from the lab with a good solid foundational IP around it, may not be in a stage to be ‘investor ready’. There may be something missing: management team, aspects of market research not accounted for, gaps in customer validation or a weak competitor profile. These need to be sorted through, and only a mature enough company will know the difference. If in doubt, ask.

5. How strong is your business case? Unfortunately, market opportunity does not always translate into market potential, and how you explain how you will raise money, and sustain that, is just about the most important piece you will need, to grab the attention of a potential investor, in your company.

6. Have you sorted through your ‘housekeeping’ issues? The right IP regime, the right go-to-market strategy, the right kind of business structure and even the team you have assembled, can all make a difference to the relative strength of a pitch and successful presentation. Anticipate: Be ready and able to answer any and all investor questions.

7. Have you raised what is important to investors in your pitch? Finding out what is important and salient to the interests of an investor is part of the capture. Articulating it with the kind of economy and brevity of language you have in 15 minutes can be difficult, but overcome. If an investor wants to find out how much money you have, or how many current sales, don’t dance around it, tell them the truth.

Remember, you only have moments to get your pitch across (maybe 15 mins), and capturing investors from the start is key. Build on that capture throughout your presentation, so you hold them waiting for the next big thing in your presentation.


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Guest Blog by Rick Rossignol: Human Resource Tips

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At Conscientia Research we like to bring you all kinds of ideas and tips across a wide range of topics. This weeks blog is a guest blog by an HR Consultant and friend of Conscientia Research, Rick Rossignol, at RTR Consulting. Rick has had 25+ years in HR and brings his leadership and knowledge to our blog pages too! Thanks Rick!


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As a business owner, you know your product, service, market, and customers. But sometimes one of the most challenging aspects of operating a business is employees. What keeps most employers up at night is employees. How do I keep them, how do I get them to perform, how do I terminate the bad hire? Can I hire them as independent contractors and not have to worry about the employment relationship?

What the employer needs to do is develop HR infrastructure.  Most employers start hiring without having a strategy for Human Resources. They are focused on developing their business. Developing your talent management strategy before hiring the first employee protects the employer. Here are some suggestions for your talent management.

1.  Strong Human Resource Management: is crucial for growing companies studies show that HR issues are those most likely to keep CEOs up at night. Companies are always struggling with the question of when to consider outsourcing the many functions of an HR department. Mishandling such a strategic decision can prove costly.

The cost of not getting Human Resources right can bankrupt your business. Getting expert human resources advice is critical to developing your organization. Your organization needs an employment brand… You need a strategy for attracting and retaining your talent.  The strategy connects the performance and engagement of the company. Your employees are your competitive advantage. They represent how you compete in your market. Your talent strategy is critical to your ability to grow and execute your business plan.

You need HR Expertise to navigate, the challenges of managing employees, being in compliance, and developing the HR programs that will keep your talent.”

2. Pay Employees Properly: Not getting employee’s paycheck right leads to employee lawsuits and Fair Labor Standards Act violation.  Knowing which pay practices apply to your organization are critical to compliance. It is very common for employers to go to the department of labor and follow laws that do not apply to them. For example, California employment law is more employee friendly and this law is the rule employers have to follow. It is also becoming trend for cities to pass strict employment laws that are more favorable to employees. San Francisco has a minimum wage of $10.75 mandatory medical coverage, sick pay, and just added transportation subsidy.

3. Recordkeeping: The employer is the keeper of the record. Collecting and maintaining records is essential for employers. There are many agencies that enforce employment law, FEHA, FSLA, OSHA, ADEA, IRCA, & EEOC. Employers need to have records that show hours worked, meal breaks, overtime paid. Usually employers not having accurate records results in employers losing lawsuits.

4. Developing Employer Strategy for Talent: Talent is the face of the business, and the employers success is being able to attract talent and keep talent. This requires knowing where your critical talent is and who you compete with for talent. Why does someone want to work for you? How are you going to help them with their career?

5. Worker Misclassification: Employee or independent contractor? On the surface, the question seems rather simple, but it represents one the “stickiest issues” for business owners. “Employers who improperly classify workers can run into serious penalties with regards to taxes, withholdings and overtime wages.” A common mistake is the misclassification of workers as exempt from the FSLA and not paying them overtime and keeping records. To be exempt the worker must meet strict rules of the exemption. There is a salary test, as well as duties tests.

6. Handbooks: From a Human Resources point of view are necessary regardless of size. The Handbook provides the employer with a set of rules and policies that all employees need to follow. It tells employees that the company does not tolerate discrimination or harassment. It provides an open door policy for employees to resolve differences. It clearly explains that employment is at will! This is an important reference for different situations that may arise. The handbook should be updated as the number of employee increases and the rules change based on the number of employees.

7.  Awesome Culture: Providing awesome culture is a good way to start! Tech companies have changed the traditional workplace. Employees spend a lot of time at work and want to have a campus type environment. Work-life balance includes providing employees with perks such as fully stocked kitchens, game rooms, lunches, training, the opportunity to work  from home, and flexible working hours. Developing an awesome culture helps employers attract and retain talent. Employees do not want to be thought of as an expense… Treat them like a asset!

logo Rick T Rossignol , RTR CONSULTING, The HR Experts 

Tel: 805 493-2136 Mobile: 805 368-7128

rick.rossignol@experthrconsulting.com |www.Experthrconsulting.com

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