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12 min read

Fundraising Over Zoom

Mar 21, 2021

Benjamin Franklin on $100 bill

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

To learn more and apply to A360, visit abundance360.com.

Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis


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