According to a recent report from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, women-owned ventures account for 20 percent of entrepreneurs seeking capital, though only 13 percent of them actually receive funds, lagging behind the overall rate by about 5 percent. One crucial step in seeking capital is the pitch. Recently, two seasoned women investors shared their experience about why some pitches don't persuade investors to write checks.
A recognized spokesperson for the technological entrepreneurship community in Silicon Valley, Heidi Roizen has achieved success both as an entrepreneur and as a venture capitalist. Currently a faculty member of Stanford University, Heidi served as VP for Apple, and as a co-founder and CEO of T/Maker Company, a developer and publisher of personal computer software. Heidi was a managing director of Mobius Venture Capital, which had $2 billion under management. Currently, she serves on the board of TiVo, Prysm, Inc. and Springboard Enterprises.
Here are Heidi's top pet peeves when it comes to pitches:
- Don't expect to turn a blind date into a marriage proposal in one go-round. Your job when you pitch is to convince investors to start a process by figuring out who you are and whether you can accomplish what you promise. Don't overwhelm them with PowerPoints. State articulately in two or three sentences what problem you can solve, not by recounting your entire resume but by explaining, for example, a relevant experience that led you to start your company.
An active member of a growing high-tech corridor in Salt Lake City, Utah, Judy Robinett has 30 years of executive business experience with Fortune 300 companies, and also with startups and turnarounds. From 2000 to 2008, Judy served as CEO of Medical Discoveries, Inc., a publicly traded, developmental biotech venture. Trained as a social worker, Judy now devotes her energy to consulting on strategic plans and financing for newly emerging companies. A managing director of Golden Seeds, she remains an active investor in startup companies, particularly in life sciences or high-tech, often taking board positions to guide the strategy to market.
Here is Judy's list of dos and don'ts:
- Treat investors as customers. The product they are buying is you and your company, so they want to know what they will get for their money. Too many entrepreneurs are so in love with their projects that they forget that money has value. If you describe your funding strategy from where you are now to how much you need to reach certain milestones, you appear more credible. With $1 million, maybe you could build infrastructure, hire a team and secure patents, but to get a revenue stream going, you will need more money. Be conservative about what you promise so that you can meet or beat expectations.
For more on women entrepreneurs, visit www.wStartup.com.