What made Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk succeed? Was it their technology or their mindset?
4 min read
6 min read
We are about to massively increase the amount of human genius on planet Earth in two distinct ways.
5 min read
The combination of climate change, deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and more have produced a biodiversity crisis.
6 min read
Billions of dollars of investment were closed over Zoom this past year.
Historically, fundraising used to require getting on a flight, wearing a suit, and many longggg road shows ... now, entrepreneurs are raising their seed, Series A, Series B, and billions in SPAC funding over Zoom from the comfort of their home office, bedroom or kitchen.
This blog is all about practical advice: the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of pitching yourself and your company over Zoom.
The goal is to help you avoid mistakes and up your ZOOM-PITCHING success.
For the blog, I connected with a number of friends in the VC world, and grouped their input with my own. If you’re interested, here’s who contributed: Teymour Boutros-Ghali & Neal Bhadkamkar (BOLD Capital Partners); Dakin Sloss (Prime Mover Lab); Scott Stanford (ACME Capital); Courtney Reum (M13); Will Weisman (KittyHawk Ventures); and Steve Jurvetson (Future Ventures).
Some of their advice is priceless!
Let’s dive in...
DON’T Do This…
When you’re pitching yourself and your company over Zoom, avoid these mistakes:
Poor Zoom Etiquette
- Showing up late: First things first: be on time. In fact, sign in a couple of minutes early. First impressions count.
- Being too casual: Don’t do the meeting in your pajamas or looking like you just got out of bed. You can always show more of your personality later.
- Awful background & lighting: Respect how others are seeing you on Zoom. Don’t be backlit, choose a reasonable background. As one VC put it, avoid communicating this attitude: “I am so busy that I will do a video call from my car with bad visuals and bad sound.”
- Not looking at the camera: Make sure you know where the camera is on your setup, and *look into the camera.* There’s nothing worse than having your line-of-sight way off.
- Take Zoom off screen share if you’re done with slides: First, you should minimize the amount of PowerPoint you use, but importantly, when you’re not discussing the slides, and just having a conversation, take it off of screen share.
- Eating during your pitch: Do you really need to have lunch while pitching your startup?
- Sending a private message to everyone: This is the Zoom equivalent of “replying all” unnecessarily in email.
Not Engaging Your Audience (and Team)
- Not “reading the room”: This is harder to do over Zoom, but it’s still important. The onus is on you to stop, ask if there are questions, and foster a discussion.
- Monologuing: The reality is that there’s a greater risk of people multitasking while they’re in a Zoom meeting. Don’t monologue. Pause, and make sure the audience is with you. Pause and ask if there are any questions.
- Not engaging your team: If you have members of your team join the Zoom, but you don’t give them an opportunity to present or participate, then why are they there? Show the VC that you’re a team player and engage your team.
Here’s how to IMPRESS the Venture Fund
Here’s how to actually impress the VCs during your Zoom pitch:
Do the Pre-work
- Send materials before the meeting: Send any materials and an overview ahead of the meeting. But you shouldn’t assume that they have read through everything and absorbed it. Start the meeting by recapping and summarizing.
- Do your research: Take the time to research the people you’re meeting with: what are their interests, your common connections? Build early rapport.
- Give yourself enough time: If possible, schedule an hour-long meeting, but only use half of it to pitch. Reserve 50% for conversation and Q&A.
Making a Connection Instead of Giving a Lecture
- Connect first, pitch afterwards. Ask questions up front: Instead of diving into a pitch, explain who you are, and find out who they are. Ask a few questions early so that it’s a two-way conversation and not a lecture. Connect as people not as a transaction.
- Be conversational: The best Zoom pitches are engaging and conversational. You want to make sure that the investor understands you and your business and can feel your passion.
- Keep the energy high: This is part of keeping your audience engaged. If you’re not excited about what you’re building, why should they be? One way to do this is to consider standing during your presentation to generate energy/enthusiasm.
- Maintain eye contact: Talk directly to your audience, and not some unseen person off-screen. Look at the little bright light next to the camera on your laptop.
Running an Effective Meeting
- Engage your team: If your team members are also in the meeting, then each of them should have a role to play during the Zoom call. Your teamwork should show. A team that works well together in-person can also communicate that ability over Zoom.
- Sufficient time for Q&A: The most important part of your meeting is AFTER you finish the briefing. This is when the VC gets to ask you questions and engage with you. Leave plenty of time so they can steer the conversation.
- Say thank you: Being polite is always good.
- Feedback & next steps: Make sure you ask for immediate feedback, and for the best next step.
Being an entrepreneur is all about being adaptable.
That includes how and where you tell the story of what you’re building. Given that so many deals are now being done over Zoom, know the best practices and use them.
The tips in this blog should help you take advantage of what I call our current era of “capital abundance.”
Join My Abundance 360 Community
If you want to understand how to use converging exponential technologies to create breakthroughs during this era of capital abundance, then consider joining my Abundance 360 Community.
Every year, my team and I select a group of 360 entrepreneurs and CEOs to coach over the course of a year-long program. A360 members participate in quarterly Implementation works, monthly webinars and in an annual live event. You can join at any time for a full year worth of personal coaching.
My mission is to help A360 members obtain mastery in four specific Mindsets: an Abundance Mindset; an Exponential Mindset; a Purpose-driven Mindset (through their MTP); and a Longevity Mindset. Together we will actively select and reinforce your preferred Mindsets.
5 min read
Few people recognize the vast implications of materials science.
To build today’s smartphone in the 1980s, it would cost about $110 million, require nearly 200 kilowatts of energy, and the device would be 14 meters tall, according to Applied Materials CTO Omkaram Nalamasu.
That's the power of materials advances. Materials science has democratized smartphones, bringing the technology to the pockets of over 3.5 billion people.
But far beyond devices and circuitry, materials science stands at the center of innumerable breakthroughs across energy, future cities, transit, and medicine.
As the name suggests, materials science is the branch devoted to the discovery and development of new materials. It’s an outgrowth of both physics and chemistry, using the periodic table as its grocery store and the laws of physics as its cookbook.
And today, we are in the middle of a materials science revolution. In this blog, we’ll unpack the most important materials advancements happening now.
Let’s dive in…
The Materials Genome Initiative
In June 2011 at Carnegie Mellon University, President Obama announced the Materials Genome Initiative, a nationwide effort to use open source methods and AI to double the pace of innovation in materials science.
Obama felt this acceleration was critical to the U.S.'s global competitiveness, and held the key to solving significant challenges in clean energy, national security, and human welfare.
And it worked.
By using AI to map the hundreds of millions of different possible combinations of elements—hydrogen, boron, lithium, carbon, etc.—the initiative created an enormous database that allows scientists to play a kind of improv jazz with the periodic table.
This new map of the physical world lets scientists combine elements faster than ever before and is helping them create all sorts of novel elements.
And an array of new fabrication tools are further amplifying this process, allowing us to work at altogether new scales and sizes, including the atomic scale, where we’re now building materials one atom at a time.
Biggest Materials Science Breakthroughs
These tools have helped create the metamaterials used in carbon fiber composites for lighter-weight vehicles, advanced alloys for more durable jet engines, and biomaterials to replace human joints.
We’re also seeing breakthroughs in energy storage and quantum computing.
In robotics, new materials are helping us create the artificial muscles needed for humanoid, soft robots—think Westworld in your world.
Let’s unpack some of the leading materials science breakthroughs of the past decade.
(1) Lithium-ion batteries
The lithium-ion battery, which today powers everything from our smartphones to our autonomous cars, was first proposed in the 1970s. It couldn’t make it to market until the 1990s, and didn’t begin to reach maturity until the past few years.
An exponential technology, these batteries have been dropping in price for three decades, plummeting 90% between 1990 and 2010, and 80% since. Concurrently, they’ve seen an eleven-fold increase in capacity.
But producing enough of them to meet demand has been an ongoing problem. Tesla has stepped up to the challenge: one of the company’s Gigafactories in Nevada churns out 20 gigawatts of energy storage per year, marking the first time we’ve seen lithium-ion batteries produced at scale.
Musk predicts 100 Gigafactories could store the energy needs of the entire globe. Other companies are moving quickly to integrate this technology as well: Renault is building a home energy storage based on their Zoe batteries, BMW’s 500 i3 battery packs are being integrated into the UK’s national energy grid, and Toyota, Nissan, and Audi have all announced pilot projects.
Lithium-ion batteries will continue to play a major role in renewable energy storage, helping bring down solar and wind energy prices to compete with those of coal and gasoline.
Derived from the same graphite found in everyday pencils, graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. It is nearly weightless, but 200 times stronger than steel. Conducting electricity and dissipating heat faster than any other known substance, this super-material has transformative applications.
Graphene enables sensors, high-performance transistors, and even gel that helps neurons communicate in the spinal cord. Many flexible device screens, drug delivery systems, 3D printers, solar panels, and protective fabric use graphene.
As manufacturing costs decrease, this material has the power to accelerate advancements of all kinds.
Right now, the “conversion efficiency” of the average solar panel—a measure of how much captured sunlight can be turned into electricity—hovers around 20-22%, at a cost of roughly $3 per watt.
Perovskite, a light-sensitive crystal and one of our newer new materials, has the potential to take that conversion efficiency much higher. Last year, scientists paired perovskite with silicon in a hybrid solar cell that achieved a new world record of 30% efficiency.
And perovskite has the potential to get that number up to 66%.
The ingredients that make up perovskite are both widely available and inexpensive to combine. What do all these factors add up to? Affordable solar energy for everyone.
Materials of the Nano-World
Nanotechnology is the outer edge of materials science, the point where matter manipulation gets nano-small—that’s a million times smaller than an ant, 8,000 times smaller than a red blood cell, and 2.5 times smaller than a strand of DNA.
Nanobots are machines that can be directed to produce more of themselves, or more of whatever else you’d like. And because this takes place at an atomic scale, these nanobots can pull apart any kind of material—soil, water, air—atom by atom, and use these now raw materials to construct just about anything.
Progress has been surprisingly swift in the nano-world, with a bevy of nano-products now on the market.
Never want to fold clothes again? Nanoscale additives to fabrics help them resist wrinkling and staining.
Don’t do windows? Not a problem! Nano-films make windows self-cleaning, anti-reflective, and capable of conducting electricity.
Want to add solar to your house? We’ve got nano-coatings that capture the sun’s energy.
Nanomaterials make lighter automobiles, airplanes, baseball bats, helmets, bicycles, luggage, power tools—the list goes on.
Researchers at Harvard built a nanoscale 3D printer capable of producing miniature batteries less than one millimeter wide.
And if you don’t like those bulky VR goggles, researchers are now using nanotech to create smart contact lenses with a resolution six times greater than that of today’s smartphones.
And even more is coming. Right now, in medicine, drug delivery nanobots are proving especially useful in fighting cancer. Computing is a stranger story, as a bioengineer at Harvard recently stored 700 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA.
On the environmental front, scientists can take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into super-strong carbon nanofibers for use in manufacturing. If we can do this at scale—powered by solar—a system 10% the size of the Sahara Desert could reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels in about a decade.
The applications are endless. And coming fast. Over the next decade, the impact of the very, very small is about to get very, very large.
With the help of artificial intelligence and quantum computing over the next decade, the discovery of new materials will accelerate exponentially.
And with these new discoveries, customized materials will grow commonplace. Future knee implants will be personalized to meet the exact needs of each body, both in terms of structure and composition.
Though invisible to the naked eye, nanoscale materials will integrate into our everyday lives, seamlessly improving medicine, energy, smartphones, and more.
Ultimately, the path to demonetization and democratization of advanced technologies starts with re-designing materials— the invisible enabler and catalyst. Our future depends on the materials we create.
Join MY ABUNDANCE 360 COMMUNITY
If you want to understand how to use exponential technologies to transform your business and create breakthroughs, then consider joining my Abundance 360 Community.
Every year, my team and I select a group of 360 entrepreneurs and CEOs to coach over the course of a year-long program. A360 starts each January with a live event and continues every two months with Implementation Workshops, in which I personally coach members in small groups over Zoom.
My mission is to help A360 members identify their MTP, select their moonshot, and craft an Abundance, Exponential, and Longevity Mindset. Together we will actively select and reinforce your preferred Mindsets.
6 min read
Nothing accelerates technological innovation like cash. Lots of cash.
4 min read
What if a microscopic robot could treat diseases from within your body?
Topics: Robotics Exponentials biotech
6 min read
Today, just a few decades after the arrival of the internet, Google and Facebook together command more advertising dollars than all print media on the planet.
6 min read
Seven years ago, I wrote that Bitcoin was moving from its deceptive phase to a very disruptive phase. At the time, one bitcoin was worth $600.
6 min read
What’s faster than autonomous vehicles and flying cars?
6 min read
AI and broadband were already eating retail for breakfast. In the first half of 2019, we saw 19 retailer bankruptcies. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail apocalypse is only accelerating.
3 min read
Do you ever feel that there are too many opportunities to pursue?
6 min read
Food… what we eat and how we grow it will be fundamentally transformed in the next decade.
9 min read
We’re living during the age of “Moonshots”, a time where entrepreneurs and scientists are able to go 10x farther than ever before.
5 min read
You just learned that your daughter’s disease gives her less than 5 years to live. How do you react?
3 min read
What if you could achieve 10X growth while your competitors achieve 10% growth?
5 min read
The robots are coming! On our sidewalks, in our skies, in our every store… Over the next decade, robots will enter the mainstream of retail.