Pitching a Startup? Spot a Trend

I’ve mentioned before the difficulty I have writing the high level business vision (Writing the Vision Statement). Another tactic I use is bouncing ideas off friends and colleagues. Over lunch with Paul Amirault (if you need the legals done for your startup financing, Paul’s the man!) he suggested that I lead with what we think is a trend the follow up with why your company will capitalize on that trend.

Here’s why I think that is a brilliant idea. First, understand that the investor you are pitching to will look for outside validation of your idea. Giving them a trend to verify is setting them up to easily find that external validation. With your trend in hand, they will ask experts in the area if they see this as a trend. All it takes is for one expert to agree to the trend for the investor to feel they have some form of external validation.

Now here’s the magic of the idea. The trend doesn’t have to play out you said. That’s right, you can be so wrong about where you saw the market going and still seem like a business genius to your investors. Let me explain.

If you are right a nailed the trend, you seem like a genius. You looked into the future, made an guess about what would happen, had the confidence and courage to state it and stand behind it, and you were right! This is the stuff of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and others famous visionaries. Not a bad crowd for your investors to see you in.

But what if you are wrong (and you probably will be wrong). You can capitalize on being wrong by pivoting (I know that buzz word is so 2011 but it was a lot easier than saying turning your company to chase another trend). Now your investor will see a business lead who saw that there company direction was wrong, admitted it, rallied the troops and corrected course. You are in the ranks of other business geniuses like Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey and other famous pivoters. Again, not a bad crowd.

This was a key components of our first funding for Distil Interactive. We believed that the biggest challenge facing learning was how to assess student performance. By using digital games based learning we could better assess what a student actually did rather than quiz them at the end. Our first investor later told be that what tipped him was when he reached out to a few thought leaders in the space to get their opinions on assessment and they came back and said that was the biggest problem in the space.

Wrapping up, spotting and hitching your company pitch to a trend is a very low risk way to approach investors. What successful tactics have you used in getting investors excited about your business? Leave your experiences below in the comments.

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