Redacted Feedback

Earlier this week, I attended a set of company pitches by startups trying to raise venture capital money. I was wearing my investor hat, not my Georgia Tech hat.

The organizer asked for my feedback. I gave it to her. I figured it was worth sharing here, with the identifiable details REDACTED to protect the guilty:

The [COMPANY REDACTED] pitch was just atrocious. A parody of everything that an investor pitch is NOT supposed to be. I assume the CEO does a better job of pitching than the CFO. When you discovered the CEO wasn’t available, you should have scrubbed the company from the agenda and gone with your first alternate.

You’re welcome to share the remainder of this with [NAME REDACTED]; I don’t care enough to email him directly:

Don’t insult my intelligence by starting with two pages of “forward looking” and “safe harbor” disclaimers and saying “My lawyers say I have to do this.” If your lawyers say that, fire them and get better lawyers. You do NOT have to start with that.

You paid a graphic designer good money for your logo. Let them take a run at your charts. Endless endless boring pages of print too small to read, with information that’s more appropriate to a third or fourth meeting, not an introductory pitch.

You finally got to a compelling statement about seven slides and fifteen minutes into your pitch: [TAGLINE REDACTED]. Hey, it’s not bad. But you stepped on the tagline, barely pronounced it, then hurried on to more deadly dull corporate droning.

Didn’t you notice how everyone had pulled out iPhones/Blackberrys by that point? Or were congregating by the bar and talking to each other, not listening to you? Were you just not paying attention to your audience at all?

You brought props — yay! — but didn’t bring them out for half an hour, and then didn’t pass them around the audience? What was the point?

And then finding out you had a flight in 75 minutes, but you just had to give two more painful boring slides? Idiotic. Especially because you didn’t use those last two slides to ask for the sale. Are you raising a round? How big? How much is already spoken for? Who else is in? What sort of terms?

You went way over the time allocated, may have missed your flight, and allowed zero time for questions? Do you really expect someone to engage with you after such an insulting use of our time?

I think there’s a pony under all this horsepoop, but you did your best to conceal it. If [COMPANY REDACTED] were my company, I’d never let you speak in public again, and I’d never use that presentation deck again. As it was, you did a great job of convincing me to NOT take the next step in asking for a meeting, since I’m afraid I’d have to see the same presentation inflicted on my partners. No way!


  1. Jeff McConnell says

    Recently at Startup Gauntlet we suggested a presenter shred the all the copies, delete the files and reformat any drives if was stored on to eliminate any possibly of the slides ever being seen, or worse, used again.

    I hope it wasn’t the same guy.

  2. I’ve *been* with you at several such pitches. Wince.