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:
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.