Differentiate for customers AND investors

Just about everyone knows how important it is to differentiate your solution vs the competition when trying to secure customers (if not, read here & watch this). Startups seeking funding ALSO need to differentiate their pitch vs all the other startups seeking funding. How?

  1. At a minimum you do a great job putting together your pitch deck and documentation so it is professional and reflects industry norms. For some good tips on that check out this: “Guy Kawasaki on how to secure venture capital Part I, Part II, & Part III“.
  2. Imagine what all the other executive summaries and pitch decks look like, and try not to sound just like them. Examples:
    1. “We are part of the $10 billion XYZ industry…” – so are a lot of people. Instead, try this “Last year $100 million was spent purchasing products that directly compete with ours.” That takes courage. It shows research. It entices us to ask questions you want us to ask… ones that allow you to show off what you know about your target market.
    2. “Carbon emissions are part of a global crises threatening the environment…” – yes, but every time I see this the entrepreneur is pitching a VERY specific solution for some subset. If instead they had said “Industrial scale hydrogen production facilities are capital-intensive to build, expensive to maintain, and are incurring ever-larger fines do to their large carbon footprint.”
    3. “We are a pre-revenue company with a pre-money valuation of $10 million” – Who am I to argue with an entrepreneur on the value of their company? It is too emotional to do most of the time. Besides, if I have 100 other companies applying for funding who have products in the field, revenue, and seasoned management teams with valuations of one third that… why bother even corresponding with the entrepreneur? They just aren’t a good fit.
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