Is your pitch noise, or signal? In conversation with Mark How of Neurohacker Collective.

February 14, 2017

Mark How has been part of the tech community, launching startups and investing in companies, for 20 years. He has raised millions, presented countless pitches, and built a formidable rolodex of thought leaders in the space.

It seemed only natural to ask him what set a good pitch apart from a bad one. What ensued was a lively conversation that covered everything from staggering stats (if that investor seems rude, try to remember he's heard about a thousand pitches like yours this year) to enlightening anecdotes. Enjoy the conversation!

As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… and then helps them tell the world. For more on creating your company’s value proposition, connect with Marc on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.  

Want to try building your own powerful brand to create unfair business advantage? Try out Marc’s Brand DIY – available now.

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Where’s your pitch cheerleader? In conversation with HYAS’ Jeff Spencer

February 7, 2017

Jeff Spencer is COO at HYAS, a cybersecurity startup with an incredible story. He's been involved in raises for a number of successful ventures, and understands the elements of a winning pitch. His advice? Forget the standard pitch - find a cheerleader instead. You can check the play button to hear our conversation, or skim the notes below. You'll find nuggets of pitch gold either way.

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Why common sense isn’t common practice in a pitch. An interview with Vancouver Founder Fund’s Jay Rhind.

December 31, 2016

Before you pitch a company for money, you check their background to see if they 'fit' your personality. And while you're pitching, you engage your potential investors in Q and A, to bring balance and partnership to the proceedings. Seems common sense. But apparently, it's far from common practice.

That's what Jay Rhind of Vancouver Founder Fund revealed in a conversation we had this Fall.

Rhind, an entrepreneur (failed twice, he's proud to admit), reformed corporate finance analyst, associate professor at the Sauder School of Business, and scuba diving instructor, brings a pragmatic and analytical approach to his company. It's a no-nonsense style that makes for a terrific interview.

While I didn't ask Rhind my 'big four questions' - what he needs to see in a pitch, hates to see, was most happily surprised to see, and most horrified to see - I found he brought a few extremely important insights to the table.

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What does Crowdmatrix’s Rubsun Ho look for in a pitch?

December 27, 2016

Crowdmatrix is an online investment platform that creates crowdfunded equity - bringing accredited investors together to finance growing private companies in Canada. The syndicating and investing process is simple: you can check out portfolio companies - and make your investment - right on the website. Crowdmatrix has ambitious goals - by acting as a catalyst for startup financing, the company aims to change the investment landscape and drive the growth of Canadian startup ecosystem.

Rubsun Ho is Crowdmatrix's CEO and 'Chief Crowdpleaser'. A serial entrepreneur, he helped raise $57 million for a wireless startup, went on to build a new generation of law firm, and is now driven to change the way companies raise capital in private markets. I had the opportunity to chat with Rubsun about what he likes to see in investment pitches. His insights are essential listening for any startup founder who wants an edge in their next presentation.

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The power of pitching a great story, with Park Howell.

December 10, 2016

Park Howell knows his way around storytelling.

His agency, Park & Co, specializes in weaving strong narrative elements into brand advertising. And his podcast, The Business Of Story, boasts 10,000 listeners monthly.

I invited Park to chat because I thought he'd have invaluable advice for any startup looking for a pitch advantage. He didn't disappoint.

In this conversation, we cover the four elements Park believes are critical to a killer pitch story, how to tell a story to a 'numbers' audience, and much, much more.

As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… and then helps them tell the world. For more on creating your company’s value proposition, connect with Marc on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.  

Want to try building your own powerful brand to create unfair business advantage? Try out Marc’s DIY Brand Build Guide – available now.

 

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What does Vancouver Founder Fund’s Fraser Hall look for in a pitch?

December 6, 2016

Fraser Hall is a breath of fresh air.

Like many investors, he's also an entrepreneur (having founded, among other things, a very James Bond-ish company named Recon Instruments). He has a soft spot in his heart for animals, as many of us do. Even here, though, he stands apart - his resume includes several campaigns as Captain of the Sea Shepherd

He's a partner at Vancouver Founder Fund, an investment firm with a refreshing perspective. As Fraser says "VFF is a reaction to our personal experiences working with investors who added relatively little value to the businesses we were launching. We're founders, and we're here for founders."  He's a contrarian by nature, friendly to a fault, and an extremely entertaining interview.

Ready to hear what Fraser looks for in a pitch? Have a listen.

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What does OMERS Ventures’ Sid Paquette look for in a pitch?

November 15, 2016

Sid Paquette is Managing Director at OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of one of Canada's largest pension funds. His area of specialization is investment in tech, media and telecom, so it isn't surprising I met him at this summer's Experience Tectoria event. At the event, we had a chance to chat about a subject he is both expert in and passionate about - effective pitching for investment.

Sid had great insights in a number of areas - from the importance of visuals in a pitch to the dangers of watching Dragon's Den too closely. Enjoy the conversation!

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What does Espresso Capital’s Alkarim Jivraj look for in a pitch?

November 5, 2016

In a career spanning 20 years, Alkarim Jivraj has helped raise over $1 billion for more than 100 early stage and growing technology companies. And as CEO of Espresso Capital, he's bringing a new form of investment to the Canadian market.

"Mezzanine capital is relatively uncomplicated, user-friendly, medium risk, and medium term." says Jivraj. "It's a well-known form of financing in the US, and we're making it a viable option here."

Benefits like a quick approval turnaround, flexibility in payment options, and the absence of covenants and warrants makes Espresso's offering popular. As a consequence, Jivraj hears a lot of pitches - which makes him a wonderful source of wisdom for anyone hoping to create a more powerful pitch.

I had the opportunity to chat with Jivraj on what he finds invaluable in a pitch. If you're crafting your own investment pitch, his thoughts are well worth considering.

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What does Relentless Pursuit Partners’ Brenda Irwin look for in a pitch?

November 1, 2016

One look at the exploding vitality market confirms that healthy can indeed lead to wealthy. And helping people turn great health ideas into successful businesses are passionate investors like Brenda Irwin.

Irwin is partnered with Canada's pre-eminent triathlete Simon Whitfield at Relentless Pursuit Partners, an investment consultancy committed to developing businesses in the health and wellness sector. The group's areas of expertise include health technology (as in wearables and digital health), sports, fitness and nutrition. 

I chatted with Irwin about the industry, and what health and wellness entrepreneurs needed to remember when pitching their business. Her insights were both refreshingly candid and highly educational. Enjoy!

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What does Renewal Funds’ Joel Solomon look for in a pitch?

September 8, 2016

As 'clean money champion' Joel Solomon is quick to point out, between 30 and 50 trillion dollars will be migrating to younger, values-driven investors and entrepreneurs in North America in the coming years. This massive sea change will bring with it incredible opportunities for developing new products and services.

As Forbes says, Solomon wants to reinvent capitalism. Indeed, he has deep roots in the values-driven business space. Since we first met  (when I started my green ad agency back in the heady Al Gore days) I've seen his Renewal Funds foster scores of early growth stage companies.

Now, on the cusp of launching his book Green Money Revolution, I thought I'd ask Joel what he looks for in an investment pitch (he hears about one a day). His answers belie both conventional priorities - a strong business case and understanding of the market - with the necessity of demonstrating innovation in the sustainability and social equity space.

If you're building a values-based company, this is essential listening!

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