By Mike Collins
You’d better believe that being an entrepreneur requires you not just to have found a compelling problem and plan to solve, but also be the pitch person to sell others on that vision. A winning pitch is a mix of information, inspiration, assurance, and persuasion.
I’ve sat through thousands, delivered hundreds myself, and know what works for me as both a recipient and presenter. But I’m always open for new insights, and here are some well worth checking out.
How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Simon Sinek devotes this TED Talk to his theory that inspired leaders all think, act, and communicate from the inside out — going from the “why” to the “how,” then the “what.” A leader’s customers / followers are buying why that leader is doing something, and talking about that why will attract others. This diffusion of innovation starts with the early adopters, who are gold in that they lead the long tail of others by acting on what they believe and gladly demonstrating it to the world. Notably, Sinek’s theory nicely spans everything from commercial products to politics and religions.
First, for the entrepreneurs and VCs in the crowd, you need to know that Klaff is Director of Capital Markets for the investment bank Intersection Capital. Klaff bases his advice on cognitive science, advising that if you want to be heard, you first have to get through the “croc brain” or gut feelings. Seize the spotlight by playing to emotions like desire and fear, establishing status, and framing the conversation the way you want to. A mix of dominating and wooing, the approach appears to have worked for Klaff, who has chalked up $400M in sales over his career.
The Art of Pitching
Now sit at the feet of one of the greats. These Steve Jobs presentations for the iPod from 2001 and the iPhone from 2007 are masterclasses for passion, simplicity, and inspiring vision. And sure, presentation technology keeps getting better, but Jobs proves you don’t need it if the presenter, pitch, and product are doing the impressing. A great entrepreneurial pitchperson is a great storyteller, and none have done it better than Jobs.
Alumni Ventures (AV) provides smart, simple venture portfolios to accredited individuals. PitchBook listed AV as the third most active VC firm in the world in 2021.
Mike Collins is the Founder and CEO of Alumni Ventures. He has been involved in almost every facet of venturing, from angel investing to venture capital, new business and product launches, and innovation consulting. He began his career at VC firm TA Associates. He holds a BE from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard Business School.