Fundraising · Investor pitch

Pitch follow up, best practices?

Jacob Johnson Artist and Creative Product Designer

July 22nd, 2015

I'm very new to the game of pitching and fundraising - I've done a few of them recently that went very well, nerves aside.  Now that I have some down time, I've been thinking about sending some kind of follow up to leave a lasting impact.  I was thinking about sending an email thanking them for their time and advice, as well as a summary of the points discussed.  Is there a traditional way to send a follow up or thank you after a pitch?  Or would it be good to be unique?  Thanks.

Linda Plano Life's a pitch. Make yours amazing!

July 22nd, 2015

Hi Jacob - congratulations on having success with your first pitches. 

"Some kind of follow up" is, in general, a good idea. Your primary goal is to build on the relationship(s) that you initiated with your pitch, which is only going to happen if they meet with you again. Always try to gauge interest in a follow up meeting while you are still at the first one. If there's none, there's still no harm (and possibly some benefit) in doing what I propose next, but you can focus your attention on other targets. 

You should follow through on anything you've promised, do it in a way that does not waste your correspondents' time, and demonstrate your business acumen in process. How? I'm sure you have gotten a lot of great advice already, but here is what I would suggest: 

I would write a thank you note to the person who brought together the people at the pitch, because there is no greater gift to an entrepreneur than connecting him/her to the right audience. If you want to stand out, send a real letter instead of an email. Write it by (legible) hand on decent but not expensive stationery. Such a letter will not get lost in a crowded inbox the way that email can.

Answer any questions that you couldn't answer during the pitch, *especially* if you promised an answer in some specific time frame (e.g., "What are you doing about xyz issue?" "That's an interesting question. Let me find out about that and get back to you next week." (as tempting as it may be, never lie and never mislead - your integrity matters much more than appearing to have all the answers)). To stand out, keep that answer short and to the point. Answer only the question asked. Provide a link to references, as appropriate, but don't make the recipient do the work of reading through a bunch of information in order to draw the conclusion you want. Respect their time. 

I probably wouldn't bother with a summary of the points discussed - it was their job to summarize the takeaways of the meeting at the time. If they didn't get those points at the meeting, they weren't interested. Instead, I might send an attachment (if via email) or a doc (if via snail mail) with an executive summary (at most two sides of one page). The difference is that this doc can be referenced as an easy reference about *your* company, while your summary is a reference of *their* meeting. Also, your goal is to get another meeting, so you don't want to provide all the info they could want, just enough of it that they want to know more. 

If you do the exec summary, it should NOT be 9 pt font crowding every square inch on the page. It will never get read. Instead, reduce your in-person pitch to a single page of minimal writing and include plenty of graphics that are easy to understand and reasonably professional-looking (do NOT forget to include contact info on this doc!!!). The idea is not to educate with this doc but to pique interest. Sending it to the people at your pitch will give them ready collateral to pique interest in their colleagues. For all you know, the audience you had for the initial pitch might not be interested, but they might know someone in their network who would be. A great exec summary makes it easy for them to make a good introduction. 

I use 10 questions to frame every pitch that I coach. Of these, I would pick the top three to five for which you have the most robust answers and include them in your executive summary (or elevator pitch, for that matter). The three that I would *always* reference in any initial pitch, short or long, written or verbal, are: 
1. Who cares? Market pain, market size, customer. 
2. What do you do? Your secret sauce, in language a layperson can understand. 
3. Why are you better? Competitive advantage in terms of benefits (not features). 

The next seven questions are of varying importance depending on the stage of your company, industry, and purpose of the pitch, but those three are core to any value proposition. I would also bear in mind that if you have to be very persistent in following up with an investor, they aren't that interested and you'd be better off finding someone whose investment goals align more closely with the needs and opportunities of your startup. I.e., kick butt at the first meeting and if they show no interest in a follow up meeting, follow up once and then drop it if there's no real excitement on their part. 

Hope that's helpful! 

Rob Underwood Advisor and Entrepreneur

July 22nd, 2015

Most of the VCs that do Series A, and even increasingly professional angels, I know are looking for working prototypes in lieu of decks (this somewhat assumes you're talking about technology start-up, but the general idea applies beyond tech). So my question to you would be if there is any thing "real" you could let them look at?

(Great post on this general topic here on what financing should be used for:

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

July 22nd, 2015

Somewhat depends on the nature of the pitch and the attendees. If they are all people you know and have some awareness of their interest it will be different than if it's a demo day or some competition where lots of people attend who may have various degrees of interest in your company - or even your industry.

Having said that, keep this in mind. The purpose of a pitch is two-fold: A) To eliminate people who are not interested and keep them from wasting time. B) to entice those who might be interested in you and your company to spend more time with you to get more in depth insight and for you to get to know them better.

So you should follow up in a way that give more clarity to group A) and some extra nugget of info to group B). Then be sure to always include a next step - how they can contact you, or a time you're available to talk etc. 

Steve Everhard All Things Startup

July 22nd, 2015

Jacob it depends why you were pitching. If you were pitching for investment then this is a very transactional process. Your follow up should be to invite them into a one-to-one discussion if they are interested. The mean time to decision for early stage investment is very short as the raising doesn't usually support drawn out due diligence. They either like you or they don't so a next stage is a committed one of a deeper like and a decision to invest. Follow ups test that position.

If you are later stage then there is more of a courtship but it is still generally transactional. You don't want lots of advice and opinion by folks who aren't excited by your business. 

Many startups pitch for feedback and not investment. You might be starting up an advisory board. Know you you need and expect and make a proposal on that basis. This is a courtship as you are effectively borrowing their brand as well as their expertise.

Alex Eckelberry CEO at

July 22nd, 2015

It's fine to send a follow-up. That's basic salesmanship. 

Laurelle Johnson, MBA

July 22nd, 2015

Yes by all means follow up with an email.  Very important to keep the awareness going! 

Jacob Johnson Artist and Creative Product Designer

July 23rd, 2015

Great advice here.  My intention behind the pitches I gave last week were so I could start the process of "courting" some influencers.  Meaning I was looking to connect with them as more of a way to start a relationship where they'd be more likely to make some introductions - and when I was serious about securing some investment, the next meetings would be more focused.

I like the idea of sending a card to the more interested parties - the ones who asked questions an at least looked like they were intrigued.  I did see a couple on their phones, maybe an email would suffice for them?  Thanks again.

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

July 23rd, 2015

I wouldn't try to pre judge how interested people are. I know I sometimes check my phone to do research on some topic when I'm very interested (and sometimes because I'm bored). I've also been known to look drowsy at a meeting after a couple long days even though I'm interested. 

However you follow up (cards or email) be sure to ask for their interest level.