Today’s answer to the question “What’s the best way to pitch a startup idea to investors?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
Pitching an idea to an investor is serious stuff. You know the business will take off and will become a big success, but you just need one simple thing: money—more of it, at least. And a great pitch is the key to getting that money.
So how do you do it?
To win someone’s pocket, you must first reach his or her mind, heart, and soul. Pitching an idea is a form of winning an argument. And the best path to winning an argument has been the same since Aristotle formalized his rhetoric. As the logic speaks to the mind and the ethos to the soul, the pathos of a startup idea is its heart. Not all winning pitches have all three components, but a pitch with all three will be a winning argument.
Your idea must make sense. A startup may be brilliant, but unless you articulate it clearly, the money will not leave the giver’s hands. You should define the plan so well that it’s not just easily understandable, but very detailed and planned out. Logic considers not only the arguments for an idea, but the arguments against it. Wise investors will look for ways not to give you money, so you must think of them before they do. Good arguments are difficult to reject. The professionalism and formality of a presentation speaks to an idea already worth a million dollars.
The stability of a business is as strong as your integrity. Just as your ethic is your credibility, your idea must serve the greater good of society—or at least a particular demographic. Consider your work an obligation to the world. Without you, who would produce that service or product to the effect that yours does? Use your cause as a business to invite investors to come alongside you in making the world a better place.
Successful businesses change the reality in which we live through disrupting markets and changing minds. Without entrepreneurial ideas, pitches, and successes, we would not be living in the age of the Internet. We certainly wouldn’t have pocket devices to email clients while video conferencing our families overseas. Finding my business’ cause of helping churches find their pastors and filtering everything we do through it has been the catalyst of our team’s growth. Having a clear ethos has allowed us to recruit the right team members who are aligned with our mission and can serve our clients with excellence.
Pathos is passion, the emotional side of communication. The pathos of a startup idea is its spirit. Your presentation must touch the heart. That is the core of your work. In a sense, pitching to investors is the same as persuading someone to work for you. Give them faith in you, in the business—a cause to believe in—and you touch the core of their being.
Millennials who work with us know the purpose of our company, believe in the vision, and feel the cause. Your investors, similarly, must feel your passion for your business as well. People are always intrigued when they ask what I do. Intrigue them with belief and awe. Let the heart of the pitch make them dismiss any remaining doubts of pouring into you. No matter the environment, tap into the cause and let them share it with you.
If you are an entrepreneur, live out your idea, be convinced of it, and fuel it with spirit. Winning the argument, according to Aristotle, is a combination of all three. But remember to drive it home with a winning spirit.