5 Basic Rules
of a Perfect Pitch

by Ece Taşkınçay

5 Basic Rules
of a Perfect Pitch

by Ece Taşkınçay
While there are no hard and fast rules for pitching your startup to venture capitalist (VCs) or investors, there are some important things to keep in mind. Of course, how you pitch is as important as what you pitch. Your pitch deck is meant to put the VCs at ease so they can take your idea seriously and connect with your vision. That said, a great idea isn't always enough; you need to present in a professional manner.
We've asked Ece Taşkınçay, a VC investor in the MENA region, about the most relevant factors that founders should keep in mind when pitching their startups to venture capitalists and investors.
Ece Taşkınçay and Mike Butcher, Editor at Large at TechCrunch, at EMERGE 2022 in Yerevan
An Expert’s Opinion
Ece Taşkınçay has been interested in venture capital ever since her graduate school days in Barcelona. Her journey with VCs started as Investment Analyst at one of the biggest VCs in Spain, managing €100M funds. She then moved on to 500 Emerging Europe (€70M fund) in Istanbul, where she was focused on the pre-seed stage. She is currently a Strategy and Business Development Manager at Koç Holding, the biggest holding conglomerate in Türkiye, covering investments in startups from seed to growth stage, as well as VCs both in Türkiye and globally.
How do investors spot good founders? Are there any specific key traits you look for in a founder or a founding team?
E: Pre-seed master experts (venture capitalists who’ve seen plenty of pitches and invested accordingly) can tell rather quickly what would lead to success, by looking at the past steps the founder has taken, and their vision. For early-stage startups, it is a bit more intuitive.

Usually, the ones that win tend to have the fastest feedback loops. For this reason, self-judgment, flexibility, and adaptability become key traits in a founder due to their dynamic role within their own company.

When we’re evaluating early-stage founders, we always try to understand the deeper layer behind their startup. How did they build their product? Was it created as a result of something they experienced or a problem they faced?
Anton Selikhov, Founder and CEO at CopyMonkey, finalist of the EMERGE Startup Challenge 2022
When should a founder approach an investor?
E: There isn't a wrong or right time to approach an investor. My personal preference is early-stage, because it’s a chance to meet the founders from the very beginning, build a solid relationship, and grow and progress with the startup. In this case, the startup progresses and starts fundraising, and the pace is much faster.

Still, I would mostly suggest that founders reach out only when they’re ready with a proper pitch deck, and are actively fundraising. Sometimes founders try cold reach outs, like through email or LinkedIn, just to network and meet investors. If their pitch deck isn’t ready, or their startup isn’t actually fundraising, this may not be the best strategy as investors may lose interest overtime, considering how dynamic the entire sector is.

What are the most common mistakes made by founders when pitching to investors?
In your pitch, explain in detail how your team contributes to your startup. VCs and investors are not interested in this: a team slide with photos of tens of people without context. A big team doesn’t really matter – what counts is how each of these people is helping tackle the problem their startup is supposed to be fixing.

One more thing: Utilize the market size section of your pitch smartly - Show the market today and your specific portion of it precisely. Show how and why you think the market will grow in three to five years instead of showing a few billion dollars of a total addressable market. We want to hear about not only the market itself, but also the founders’ understanding of it, and their startup’s specific “piece of the pie”. Do they see growth in their market share over the next decade? How are they planning on achieving that growth?

My last tip is: Don’t mention an exit strategy! You’re supposed to be building a company long-term, rather than seek a quick exit in five or so years. Investors want to see your commitment to your idea and its growth, rather than a purely financial approach.
What do you want to see from a startup before you invest? Alternatively, what are the elements/contents of a good pitch deck?
Ece: In addition to avoiding the mistakes I already mentioned, founders should know that they don’t always have to follow the traditional structure of a pitch. The best approach is storytelling!

Lay out an intricate, well-planned and interesting story to investors. Reel them into your “problem”, your “why”, and help them connect to it on an emotional level. That way, they’ll be intrigued and want to know your solution.
Startup Alley at EMERGE 2022 in Yerevan
What's your biggest lesson or take-away as a VC Investor?
E: As an investor, one of the difficult things is being aware of our own biases – we all have them! Heuristics and stereotypes may be the ways to interpret our previous observations and experiences when we meet with the founders, test new products or explore new markets. Even though pattern matching is crucial for us, it would be a mistake sticking to the patterns we have developed.
When it comes to pitching, a good idea isn't enough to make for a successful pitch. The pitch deck is just one part of the equation when it comes to the pitch process. Yes, it’s important to create a good deck, but how you tell your startup’s story, and the emphasis you place on your team, as well as your research are all elements you should keep in mind.

Want to meet investors from global and local funds? We have a limited discount on EMERGE 2023 tickets! Buy your startup ticket now for a chance to win the prize money at the EMERGE Startup Challenge.