What life sciences startups should do – and not do – when pitching to investors

Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) partnered with Virtuozo (speaker coaches for TED) to help the five finalist teams at the BrainTech 2017 Startup Competition prepare for their pitches.  We sat down with Virtuozo to get some tips on what to do – and what not to do – when presenting to potential investors.

Virtuozo

The Startup Competition workshop

Every founder has been in this spot – preparing for the pitch, whether it be in a meeting or on a competition stage, and which could determine the startup’s future.  In the life sciences arena – with its long product lead times, hurdles of regulation and clinical trials – the path to an investor’s heart is even more difficult. The team at Virtuozo has prepared dozens of award winning startups and high level executives in the life science industry to be their best at critical presentations, and they have some advice to share.

Michael Weitz of Virtuozo has a short list of what “not to do” for startups. “The first important thing is that you’re not defending your dissertation.  If you’re presenting to people who are knowledgeable in your arena, don’t waste too much of your time explaining the basics and background of the problem you’re solving– you won’t have enough time left for the important stuff.”  By important stuff, Weitz means things like how your product works, what pilots you’ve done, and what endorsements and awards you’ve received.

There are a few small but avoidable mistakes many startups make. “Don’t speak in general terms about the problem, or your ‘solution.’  You have to be concrete and memorable, get your audience to see your vision in their mind’s eye, and become engaged. Where possible, show what you’re doing with mockups, slides and video. Or better yet, try and give the audience an experience through a demo, or some other way to replicate what your users will get as a benefit.”

You don’t have to be a great showman to connect with your audience, explains Ori Luzia of Virtuozo. “Your audience is not necessarily looking for the slick, charismatic presenter, you don’t have to be funny or extroverted to be convincing. You need to be clear with your ideas and examples, and communicate your passion and commitment.”

There isn’t one “right” flow or outline for a pitch, according to the Vituozo team.  If your strongest asset is a highly experienced team, perhaps you shouldn’t leave that slide to the end, but rather lead your presentation off with it. Ask yourself what is your most intriguing, or relevant, message, and begin with that.

Another thing to avoid?  Clichés and expressions that are overused:  “Imagine a world…”,  “What if I told you…”, “And that’s where we come in…” are all overused, and should be avoided.  When giving examples, the Virtuozo team also recommends to “go real.” “Presenters will show an image obviously taken from Shutterstock or other image bank, and say ‘meet Sarah’ or ‘this is Joe…”  If you can show real people and give real examples, this will be much more powerful to your audience,” explains Luzia.

The Virtuozo team worked with the five finalist to help them prepare to pitch at the BrainTech 2017 Startup Competition session, sponsored by Sanara Ventures. We invite you to attend the BrainTech conference and see these five promising early stage startup teams present on stage: EyeMind, BrainVivo, Juncture Therapeutics, Taliaz Health and Triticum.

BrainVivo founder Assi Horowitz came away from the workshop really energized: “I come from a background of presentation and instruction, but really the Virtuozo team is a league above everything I’ve experienced before.  I reassessed a lot of aspects of my presentation following the workshop, from my body language to how my messages come across to the audience.  It was just great!”

Virtuozo is a long-term partner of IBT, and works with the startup teams at Brainnovations – IBT’s accelerator for early stage brain startups

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