7 Tips For Pitching At A Startup Accelerator Demo Day Everywhere Else

It’s Investor Day/Demo Day season across the country. We’ve got Brandery’s demo day in Cincinnati in two weeks on October 3rd. RevTech in Charlotte’s demo day is also October 3rd. MassChallenge has a class graduating soon, and so do many more.

Here at nibletz, the voice of startups “everywhere else” we attend a lot of demo days and we get asked for feedback by lot’s of startups. So here we’re going to show off some pitch videos from investor/demo days and share what we personally like to see. Of course take our advice however you’d like.


Product Product Product

Product is the most important thing at Demo Day, at least in my opinion. We’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that a business plan, pitch deck or wireframe is what brought you to the accelerator in the first place. Now you’ve completed a three month accelerator and received a decent amount of seed funding. I don’t care what the reason, you better have a product. The accelerator staff may blow smoke up your ass but if I personally had given you the seed money, and I don’t see a product, youre going to be cutting my grass for many years to come.

Enough on the startup lingo

The point of the three month accelerator was not to hear about minimum viable products, bandwidth, game changing, disruption or that you’re a change agent. I also don’t want to hear “at the end of the day”. Truth be told most investors know the buzzwords and it’s often times a BS alert in the pitch, either that or a crutch. So at the end of the day those investors are going to go home to their families without investing.

Statistics are as boring as your statistics class

I love startup pitches on investor day that use real world examples of problems and not a hodge podge of statistics and a boat load of slides to show them. Remember that you rattling off statistics is nothing more than you rattling off statistics. Use your key statistics in nice colorful charts, leave them up for a few seconds but I’m sure you have your pitch deck in an emailable file or better yet on slideshare. If someone is jonesing to see all your stats, follow up later. Don’t put anyone to sleep

Growing organically and virally in the first year and making revenue in the second year

This is absolutely NOT a viable go-to-market strategy. We, and of course investors, want to know where your revenue is going to come from, the first year. In fact they want to know where your revenue is going to come from tomorrow. I don’t care what you told yourself in the mirror this morning, chances are very high that you’re not the next Kevin Systrom.

Stealth Mode

If you’re a nibletz reader you know we hate stealth mode, it’s bull shit. Somebody else already has your idea, it’s about execution and product not about keeping secrets. Now at investor day/demo day all of your cards should be on the table. If you’ve got a video capturing app and more features coming that are in stealth mode, why aren’t they in the product now. Perhaps you should have spent less time playing foosball and more time working on the product.

You can’t listen if you don’t stop talking

Whether you’re in a Q&A session right after a pitch, or fielding questions at a booth or in the crowd after the event, you can’t listen if you don’t stop talking. A lot of people are going to tell you what a great job you did. Take those compliments in stride. But when it comes time to answer questions, answer them concisely, and quickly. If you don’t understand the question, let the person asking it know that, they’ll respect you more. If an investor asks you something and you don’t know the answer to it, tell them it’s a really good question, jot a note down and either research the answer on your iPhone or with your team and get back to them that night, or follow up.  If you bullshit they’ll smell it.

Don’t forget personality.

There’s a good chance that you were picked for the accelerator not because your ticket selling app was going to take on Ticketmaster and Live Nation, but rather because the board liked you, or your personality. Don’t forget to interject some of that in your pitch.

And now a video…

This is Banyan, they won a $100,000 in the GigTank challenge which was an investor day challenge for the Gig Tank accelerator in Chattanooga.  Here’s why I love this pitch.

- First off I’m not big into the product I’m not sure how big the market is. It’s a collaborative research tool, it’s a great concept but again there’s not a huge market and researcher’s aren’t the best at sharing. That’s not the point though. I thought Toni Gemayel had a great pitch.

- Banyan had a product. Banyan was up and running and had been thoroughly tested

- Gig Tank’s theme was literally “high bandwidth” startups. The accelerator was built around Chattanooga’s 1Gb fiber. Researchers who use Banyan have to transmit enormous amounts of data. Gemayel conceptualized this by saying if a researcher wanted to send 2 terrabytes of data from Stanford to the UK under traditional bandwidth constraints it would be quicker to get on a plane and fly there.

- Banyan offered several plans at making money immediately, not two years down the road.

- Finally, Gemayel had everyone laughing with a really small joke at the end of the presentation. Watch the video to see it.


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One comment

  1. 1

    Thanks for the kind words about my pitch! We know Banyan isnt “sexy software” but that doesnt mean the pitch cant be fun, different, and memorable.

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