Part II: Do you have what it takes to win over investors? Tips from VCs on pitching your company taken from BIO-Europe® 2014

November 18, 2014 Erin Righetti

perpitch2.1The following is Part II of some of the tips and takeaways on giving a “perfect pitch,”  taken from the “Perfect Pitch” workshop at BIO-Europe® 2014 in Frankfurt, Germany on November 3. Doug MacDougall, President of
acDougall Biomedical Communications, led the interactive workshop where participants gave 30-second pitches to a panel of VCs.

The panel of judges representing life science investment firms included:

  • Mette Kirstine Agger – Managing Partner, Lundbeckfond Ventures
  • Roel Bulthuis – Managing Director, MS Ventures
  • Ann DeWitt – Senior Director of Investments, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Sanofi
  • Michael Keyoung – Managing Partner, Portola Capital Partners
  • Jack B. Nielsen – Partner, Novo Ventures, Novo A/S
  • Michèle Ollier – Partner, Index Ventures
  • Nancy Sullivan – CEO and Senior Managing Director, Illinois Ventures.

Here are some highlights:

  1. It’s important before you go into your slideshow to have a brief discussion of what level of detail you want to go into so you can understand the person on the other side. Do they want a technical presentation or an overview of the companies or the investors a little bit more because perhaps they’re not the science person? It’s very important to pose that question before you just jump into your 85-slide presentation. [Doug MacDougall]
  2. It’s valuable in these meetings to have your whole company in 10 or 15 slides that you can go through very quickly and say to the person, ‘I am going to go through the presentation, let me go through it in about 10 minutes and then we can have a discussion.’ Just give them an overview and the story. And let the rest be Q&A. And you should always have at least one killer data slide. [Doug MacDougall]
  3. Have a very short depth to give people the overview. When these people go into a 30-minute meeting, they’ve got to go back and present it to their board or committee and show them the most interesting things, so you want to give them an overview of what you’re doing from your perspective so they can send that message to their team. [Doug MacDougall]
  4. In a 30-minute meeting, it’s important for me to get a deep sense of the problem you’re solving, and to build some credibility over that time. Because once the credibility has been built and I understand the problem that you’re solving, you can help me to dig in deeper, to get into the data, to get into the information that you’re working on. [Nancy Sullivan]
  5. Ask yourself whether the three to four key pieces of informational data in your presentation that are really relevant for your project are convincing, because if you are presenting this project, you must be convinced, yourself. And to explain what differentiates you from any other product that is being developed or being used, in the same indication in the same market. This is very often forgotten. [Michèle Ollier]
  6. I think having a good business model, and the right target is important. An example being immunotherapy—there’s tons of immunotherapy deals getting tons of money—so that funding is available if you’re in the right therapeutic area. [Michael Keyoung]perfpitch2.2
  7. We have seen more exciting companies over the two years than we have done over the last ten years. The science is really good, the presentations of the companies are really good, I think the deal flow is as good as it has ever been. [Jack B. Nielsen]
  8. You’ve got investors who are seeing lots of companies; you may want to mention the name of your company five or six times. That will help them remember you or your company name. There’s a thing called message math where 9 x 1 = 0. If you give nine messages, one time, and the audience is going to remember none of them. But 3 x 3 = 1. So if you have a key message you want to deliver, whether it’s the efficacy of your product or something that’s very important, you want to mention it two or three times and maybe they’ll get it.  [Doug MacDougall]
  9. One challenge for the presenter may be that the key questions you get about your product are maybe not the things you want to discuss in detail for a broad audience. For the potential investor, maybe not even the content of the answers but the response to the questions and your preparedness to answer and provide data back up, this is very, very useful. [Roel Bulthuis]
  10. One of the things that we like to do with our own portfolio companies is to, after an event like this, sit down together and to think about the key questions we got in all those 30-minute presentations. Ideally, you don’t have a static company presentation. Consider what investors asked you, or what potential partners asked you, and how you can anticipate on that in developing your story. For that, these are very, very useful interactions. [Roel Bulthuis]
  11. It’s important to get to how much are you raising and where does that take you. And it just helps us because we sit and figure out where this fits and what you’re doing. Those two pieces of information don’t eat up a lot of your two minutes but help level stuff pretty quickly. [Nancy Sullivan]
  12. Many funds have fairly firm guidelines on where they want to go in stage-wise, so if you have two minutes you should also tell what is the actual stage of your compounds, from a five to a 90. [Jack B. Nielsen]
  13. Remind investors of what you do, and remind them again. That’s what so important about the 30-second pitch; if you just met someone again, you can give them your 30-second pitch so they remember you. [Doug MacDougall]perfpitch2.3


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