There is Such a Thing as a Too Polished Startup Pitch

Most people seeking advice on how to pitch their startup to investors are encouraged to be well-prepared. They are not necessarily wrong, but there is such a thing as a pitch that is too polished.

Even if you manage to avoid it coming across as a sales pitch, a pitch that is too refined can inadvertently trigger a distrust. Maybe the founder has glossed over something? Maybe the pitch is this good because they have delivered it so many times? Are they overconfident and not taking the risks seriously?

Too slick and you may come off as arrogant, uncoachable, or have too many blind spots. Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive. If you are a gifted public speaker, you may also have a tendency to under-prepare. If investors scratch the surface of your idea and immediately uncover big issues you’ve glossed over, you’re probably not going to be invited to the next stage of due diligence.

You may be on the other end of the spectrum and fretting about being able to deliver a slick investor presentation. Some nerves are expected, and most investors can look past them – especially if part of your plan is to round out your team with individuals who are comfortable pitching. Investors fund founders who are good at building things, not ones that are slick presenters.

Now I’m not saying to intentionally decrease the polish of your pitch – but remember that investors want your pitch to be the start of a conversation. You are not selling them, you are engaging them in a partnership discussion, so talk to them. Share the negatives and positives.

Here are a few tips to keep your startup pitch authentic and honest to connect with investors:

Explain why you are passionate about and how you are deeply connected to the opportunity

Give an honest summmary of your startup journey to date - warts and all

Leverage speakership techniques that focus on connecting with your audience: have a compelling hook, tell a story, use a clear structure, read audience response

Have a 'kitchen sink' appendix so that you can dive into the details during Q&A so that it is clear you haven't glazed over challenging or risky components of your opportunity

Be visionary, but with your feel firmly planted in the current opportunity and limitations

Some fundraising options require a startup pitch – like presenting to an angel investor network. The majority of investors prefer a conversation to a pitch deck, even if that conversation is delivered in the form of a presentation supported by a pitch deck.