We came together with Uber this October to introduce Girlboss x Uber Pitch, a program awarding more than $200,000 in prize money to three rising-star entrepreneurs. Ahead, hear from a venture capitalist on the tools you need to ace your next pitch — then head to Uber Pitch, a program awarding more than $200,000 in prize money to three rising-star entrepreneurs. Ahead, hear from a venture capitalist on the tools you need to ace your next pitch — then head to a program awarding more than $200,000 in prize money to three rising-star entrepreneurs. Ahead, hear from a venture capitalist on the tools you need to ace your next pitch — then head to Uber Pitch to put those skills to the test.
Samantha Wong says getting investment for a startup is a bit like falling in love.
You know those dates when it’s obvious there’s a spark—you’re bouncing off each other, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing at the same jokes?
The same goes for a pitch.
“The ideal scenario is the investor does most of the talking, not you,” Wong told Girlboss. “Be confident in your delivery. But remember you’re not giving a speech, so be prepared to take questions and be conversational.”
A love story in the making
The most important part of a pitch is telling a story about yourself and your business.
“Pitching is storytelling so really nail down the narrative,” Wong says. “Why is this such a deep, painful problem? Why you? Why now?”
“It takes a lot of practice to get that perfect so start early. Tell anyone who will listen about what you’re building and watch for their responses. That will usually give you a sense of what elements people are responding to and what elements you should amplify.”
“Use slides, and construct the order of them so that you deliver the story in the way it is best told.”
Women with purpose at the top
Blackbird has funded some of the best-known female-founded success stories in the startup world. There’s Canva, the graphic design platform that has reached unicorn status. Canva’s founder, Melanie Perkins, is one of the youngest CEOs to lead a $1 billion company.
Then there’s Shoes of Prey, which creates bespoke, hand-made women’s shoes that are designed by the customer. Co-founder Jodie Fox came up with the idea as a solution to her own problem of not being able to find the exact shoes she wanted.
The key secret to securing funding from a VC like Wong?
She and her colleagues “look for founders who are doing their life’s work.”
“The most critical thing I am looking for is a really big vision about what the company wants to achieve, but also a deep connection to the problem they are trying to solve,” she says.
“What has happened in their lives that makes them uniquely qualified to solve it? Why will they be relentlessly resourceful in achieving their goal? Why will peers flock to work for them to achieve the mission, when they can probably earn more and work less somewhere else?”
The biggest mistake that an entrepreneur can make in a pitch is leaving the VCs confused. Like Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator has said, “It’s shocking how many pitches I don’t understand. And they’re never the good companies.” Wong’s advice is to “come prepared with slides that help illustrate what you are trying to convey.”
Another big mistake is failing to research the firm or partner before the pitch, then including or saying things that are “a known red flag or turn off.”
“For example, we hate exit slides,” Wong said. “It’s all over our blog and website how much we hate it, and why we don’t think it should be a focus at the early stage. And then companies walk in and show how they’re going to exit in 5 years.”
Finally, a big no-no is running out of time. “Most firms will have a hard stop at the end of the hour,” says Wong. The way to avoid this is practice to perfection.
Takes two to tango
Wong has some key advice for entrepreneurs before you enter the pitching room: “Know your audience. Not all investors think alike so take time to learn their mandate, their preferences, and what they are likely to respond to.”
But knowing your audience is as much about making sure you will get what you need from them.
“Select your investors with care,” Wong says. “When you take investment you are going on a journey of seven to 10 years with that person, which is longer than most marriages and more permanent.
“The times when your choice of investor really counts is when things aren’t going great, so you really need to feel a sense of trust and alignment on the mission for the company.”
“Always, always do due diligence on your investors. If they say they’re really helpful, you should be experiencing that help in the courtship period when they’re trying to win the deal.”
With any luck, these insights will come through in your next pitch or negotiation, and guide you over the finish line to ink the deal you want.
Ready to put these skills to the test? Along with Uber, we’re giving you the chance to pitch your genius business idea and win up to $100k in funding, plus some of the best mentors in the game. Head over to UberPitch and apply now.