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First investor pitch result: mediocre

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slayemin

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Alright, I did my first ever pitch to a large group of investors last night. I gave a two minute pitch to a room of 150 people.

I fucked it up.

My rehearsed pitch was three and a half minutes long. I had two minutes. I wasn't going to care about going over time, but then I did when I got up there. That was my first mistake. I should have said, "fuck it, I'm going over time and doing it right.". It would have been a much better pitch. Instead, they flashed a "30 seconds left!" sign at me right as I was finishing up with my introduction and who I was. "Fuck, I need to speed this up!" I thought to myself. I can't talk faster, because then people can't understand me. I'm going to have to cut content. What do I cut?! I don't know! Let's just wing it. So I did, and I sucked. I laugh about it now, but I knew the moment I finished that I wasn't very good.

Out of ten entrepreneurs who pitched, I ranked dead last. Damn.

The format was bullshit. You go up there and give a lightning pitch. Then you do a three minute Q&A. I handled that alright. I kept my answers honest and straight to the point. I probably made some mistakes there too.
One of the angel investors asked, "Why are you only asking for $500k?"
Me: "Because it's easier to ask for a small number than a big one."
Him: "...Well, at least he's honest!"

I fucked it up, and people told me in the nicest way they could, and offered mentorship and coaching. It was my first time ever pitching and I had no idea what to expect, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I'll do much better next time. As a programmer, I'm much more comfortable in front of a room of computers than a room of people. But I gotta get out of my comfort zone, right?! Booyah! Next time I will steal the show and show people how its done! I just need more practice. I swear though, I rehearsed my pitch fifty times over the weekend. I almost had the whole thing memorized.

The next pitch is this Friday. It'll be a lot more relaxed and informal, so I think I'll be able to do much better.

Lesson learned: DO NOT pay money to pitch to investors. I had to pay $500 for this "priviledge". No matter how good it is, no investor is going to love your pitch so much that they're going to pop out their checkbook and write a check on the spot. If you want to get money from investors, you need to build a relationship with them over 3-6 months. Don't take money from the first person who wants to fund you, take it from someone you get along with and can work with (Bad investors will stress you the hell out, and shit rolls downhill, which means you'll stress out your team and cause them to make a worse game).

Also: You will want to find advisors and mentors. I met with a CEO last week who is in the process of a buyout-merger with his company. He's been through hell and has taken a keen interest in what we're doing and wants to guide us around the obstacles he faced. He made an interesting point that I had never heard before: As an entrepreneur, you will waste 50% of your funds. It's wasted on bad hires, finding your product/problem/market, changing directions, chasing directions into dead ends, etc. If anything, the skill of entrepreneurship is the ability to constantly juggle.

Anyways, here is the script for my pitch for those who are interested:
[quote]

[START SLIDESHOW]

Hello everybody, I'm Eric Nevala.

I'm a former US Marine. I spent three years of my life working in Iraq and Afghanistan as a software developer. I've been shot at more times than I can count -- and I volunteered for it every single time. Why did I do this? I sincerely believed I could make a huge difference in the world and save hundreds, if not thousands of lives and bring the wars to an end, sooner rather than later. To me, this was worth it -- and I did it! [NEXT SLIDE]

In Iraq, I built software systems to help manage TWO BILLION DOLLARS in reconstruction projects and supplies. This helped us win hearts and minds, which saved innumerable lives, and ultimately brought peace. [PAUSE] [NEXT SLIDE]

More recently in Afghanistan, I built a software system used by NATO forces on the ground to determine where we were winning and losing the war on a per district level. Based on this and other information, commanding generals could make strategic decisions on where to allocate resources to stabilize the country. Once a province became stabilized, politicians could set into motion a phased transfer of authority to the afghan government, thus helping the war come to an end. [PAUSE]

Let me tell you something about myself: This drives me. I am drawn to solving hard problems which change the world. [NEXT SLIDE]

I now run a software company. We're making a virtual reality video game about war, magic, and fantasy. I want to use my experiences to teach people about the ridiculousness of war, to humanize the casualties and tragedy, to show that wars are not just between armies on a battlefield -- but are fights between people. [NEXT SLIDE]

Why Virtual Reality? Aside from the fact that it's freakin' AWESOME, it also provides the most immersive sensory experience in the world.

People have been trying to do virtual reality for decades, but the technology just hasn't been there. That has now changed. Facebook invested $2 billion in acquiring the leading VR company. Five other BIG companies have also been pushing to get their headsets out to market. It's an arms race. There is no doubt, VR is coming and it's going to be the biggest innovation of this decade. [NEXT SLIDE]

Once our team has acquired the talent and mastery in designing virtual environments, we will be perfectly poised to branch out into other untouched applications for virtual reality. You could be swimming in the deep blue ocean with a pod of orca whales. You could be a doctor exploring the growth and spread of a tumor in a patient. Perhaps you're reliving a pivotal moment in human history. Perhaps you're examining chemical bonds in a complex molecule. The shackles of physical impossibility are BROKEN. This will fundamentally change the way people experience our universe.

Today, VR is an emerging market. In a few short years, it will be a multi-billion dollar industry. [NEXT SLIDE]

We may be small today, but we will be industry leaders in VR entertainment and its broader applications. I am looking for investment partners who share my vision for the future and want to be a part of something huge while also making a tidy profit. I believe in this so much that I have invested a majority of my own savings into bringing this vision into reality. [NEXT SLIDE]

So, join me. Let's change the world together.

Thank you. I'm Eric Nevala and I look forward to working with you.
[PAUSE]
[END SLIDESHOW][/quote]
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after reading over your prepared pitch, a couple things jump to mind, first you go to long about who you are, and why your doing what your doing. secondly you don't bring forth or talk about any concrete product, just an overarching idea about doing...something...with vr.

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you don't bring forth or talk about any concrete product, just an overarching idea about doing...something...with vr.

This. You have mirrored the vision of other people (VR,facebook) and don't present your own vision. This might be a little bit harsh, but partly your script sounds like a drug-addict who would say anything to get his next shot.

 

Nevetheless, you will only learn by failure and it will work better next time, good luck :)

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Yeah, your pitch is more geared to selling to a person. Business to business and investor relationships don't work like that. These guys have been round the block and see straight through inspirational speeches. They just want to know whether giving you money will get them more back.

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I think that the VR turn has been quite sudden on your part (April 1st?) so it's perfectly understandable that your pitch may not have convinced that you have figured it all out just yet.

 

I'm sympathetic to your introduction, definition of your traits of character through your experience in the military. That being said, I'm not sure exactly how much drive this adds to your current presentation.

 

The thing is, in general, military leaders in managerial positions make the tough calls in life and death situations: they know what needs to get done and issue commands.

The software industry is radically different. Leaders tend to use more influence than authority so that they can bring the best out of other talented individuals, each with their specialty. I'm not arguing whether you are/aren't a good fit for the software industry here, just that your pitch may give indications that are not necessarily in your interest (based solely on the perception of what a military carreer-man is expected to "be like").

 

I agree that the pitch needs to start somewhere, and that without a list of shipped titles, it is very hard for you to come there with anything but your background, but perhaps you can give it a different spin?

 

Also, some of the terms used may not sound right with angels investor. Might want to corporate-suit-up on the terms you employ.

 

Just my 2 cents.

 

Best of luck with the rest.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone smile.png

I had been coached a bit before delivering my pitch. The person who coached me said that investors don't care about the product nearly as much as they care about the team and the leadership. I should spend 50% of my time talking about why I'm awesome and the right guy for the job. They want to know that the people they're investing in can actually execute on their vision, so I was trying to illustrate that through my track record.

It was a bit tough to make the connection between my military experience and VR game development. I'm still playing around with the right transition for that.

Ultimately though, the right investor relationship takes months to develop and my pitch objective should be to get investors interested enough to look at what we're trying to do and evaluate for themselves if we're a worthwhile investment which will eventually get their money back and then some. That pitch should be something in this order: Team -> product -> financials.

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"I should spend 50% of my time talking about why I'm awesome and the right guy for the job."

That's undeniably true.

 

One of the things I've always liked is this video from 2004 (Dice) where Jason Rubin went 'controversial'. Thing is, that speech paid off so much that it was most possibly a tangible part of his securing THQ's CEO position which is quite a feat (despite the fact THQ was about to go bankrupt).

 

There's a lot in that video that's interesting to consider, but most importantly, the part near the end, where he speaks about him presenting himself and being certain of his own value/worth.

This guy has a lot of hit, a lot of miss, but he most certainly has a healthy dose of self-confidence, and it shows when he's taking the tough discussion on the spot. It can be inspiring to figure out how you're going to sell your idea. It's not just a speech, you need to own the topic and not be afraid to show your position on certain things: what closes some doors is bent to fling open doors that would've otherwise only been half ajar.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhmYENdFZc8

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Excellent talk! I watched it all. That certainly informs the direction I need to go with myself and my staff. We're gonna put ourselves out there and stamp our names on our product.

"Made by Eric & Dan"

We're putting our faces out there and will talk to anyone who wants to hear what we've got to say. WE are a brand as well as our products, so we need to make sure that we market ourselves just as well as what we're selling. People want to buy into the creators and follow their work; The best thing we can do is make it easy for them to do that. Since we're technically talented people and the shift in the last few decades has moved towards the internet and other technological platforms, we of all people should be the most capable at getting our faces out there. It's become a democratized world, and not only do we get our faces out in front of our customers, but the customers can talk to us and tell us what they liked and didn't like about the products we put out -- and that only helps us deliver better product in the future.

But yeah, I'm not going to be afraid of getting my face out there. I've been thinking that we're going to do our game credits a bit differently from what most companies do... we're at least putting faces with names. Since we're building a virtual game, there isn't any reason why we also couldn't do a virtual "meet the team" credit. I think the smart and awesome thing to do as well is to not just get my face out there, but to really push the faces of my team and get their names out and help them get the respect and recognition they deserve in the industry.

Anyways, this gets me going and gives me some great ideas. Thanks Michael :)

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