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How to pitch to a Venture Capitalist like a professional

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Leading investors Dr Vijay Barathan and Dr Gareth King manage Catapult Ventures’ GM&C Life Sciences Fund. Here they talk to Pfizer Healthcare Hub: London and share their top tips for successfully pitching to a Venture Capitalist.

There’s no denying it; pitching to a Venture Capitalist (VC) is always going to be a high-stakes, high-pressure situation and even seasoned professionals know there’s always room to improve.

To help you pitch better, Dr Vijay Barathan and Dr Gareth King share the key things they want to see in the boardroom.

Tell me what you do in a sentence

“All too often start-ups fail to explain what they do and why they do it succinctly,” says Dr Barathan. “You must hone your pitch. Try to describe what you do in no more than 15 words. Explain what the opportunity is and why it is so compelling.”

Carefully consider what you need

“Start-ups often don’t give enough thought to what they really need,” says Dr King. “It’s not just about the money. You should view investors as partners and think more long-term about what support, contacts and experience you will need.”

Tackle the tough questions first

“You will have to deal with some difficult lines of questioning in every pitch, so why not address this head-on?” says Dr Barathan. “Make better use of your time in the boardroom by presenting the important facts, figures and numbers first, so you can move on to what you really want to talk about.”

Give me the key facts

“I don’t have time to look over a 60-page presentation or business plan before every meeting,” says Dr King. “But if you can create a one or two page teaser, outlining the key facts, I find that extremely useful.”

Start the pitch before the pitch

“Don’t start a relationship in the boardroom,” says Dr Barathan. “Get to know a VC more informally first in a lower pressure environment. Build up rapport over time by asking a contact to introduce you or by simply saying hi at a networking do.”

Do your homework

“I’m constantly amazed by the lack of research that some start-ups do before a pitch,” says Dr King. “You should know what investments a VC has made before and what areas they are looking to invest in today and in the years ahead.”

Ultimately the best strategy for securing investment is to invest your own time and energy into finding the right partner for your business and building a great relationship. So now you’ve heard from the investors, it’s time to bite the bullet and pitch like a professional.

About the investors

Dr Vijay Barathan is a Life Science Partner at Catapult’s GM&C Life Sciences Fund. He has extensive experience working in medicine and managing life science investments. He holds a degree in Medicine and a BSc in Development Neurobiology.

Dr Gareth King is a Life Science Partner at Catapult’s GM&C Life Sciences Fund. He has a background working in and leading life science start-ups, including Critical Pharmaceuticals, Pharmaceutical Profiles, and Cyprotex. He holds an BSc in Microbiology from Sheffield University and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Edinburgh University.

Investors Dr Vijay Barathan and Dr Gareth King have seen it all in the boardroom. From a two-hour pitch that made little sense to ridiculous valuations and claims. They’ve witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly.

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