Pitch advice: cultivate a sense of inevitability

In my fifteen years as a VC I must have seen well over a thousand pitches and advised over a hundred entrepreneurs on their pitch decks. Here at Forward Partners we work with very early stage companies which has meant more time spent helping craft stories to raise investment than when I was at DFJ. In short, ‘how to pitch well’ is an important topic for us and one we spend a lot of time reading and thinking about.

Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures writes a good blog, and given the above when I saw his headline The secret ingredient to the best startup pitches I clicked straight through.

The secret, which I’ve already given away in the headline, is to cultivate a sense of inevitability. Tunguz put it like this:

The most successful pitches argue the market will unfold inexorably in the way the founders envision on a relevant time scale. And, that this startup in particular will dominate share in that new world.

That’s great advice. When I think back to the investments that I’ve been most excited about it’s when I’ve been certain that the world will develop in a given direction and that other investors haven’t yet woken up to the new reality. I haven’t always been right, but at the point of investment I have felt strongly that a certain market outcome is inevitable.

There are a myriad of techniques for making a story convincing, but everything starts with the conviction of the storyteller. Entrepreneurs following this advice should make sure they really believe, and then be clear about the inevitability they are predicting and why it’s happening. Simply pointing to trends is much less powerful..