I’ve been listening to a series of investment pitches lately, most as parts of local contest events related to angel investment. As a reaction to several of these, I have a plea: Please, start by telling me a story.


Start with the story of a person who has a problem, and how your company solves it. Even if you’re selling to businesses and not consumers, even then you can tell a story.

“This farmer has to fertilize her crops every two months, and when she does . . . ”

“Mabel has to package snacks for her kids for after school . . . ”

“This big company spends tens of millions every year on compiling data about . . . ”

Then, after personalizing, so that I know what you’re selling, to whom, and how it solves their problem (or, in cases of non-necessity luxury items, why they want it), then you can tell me about your secret sauce, special offering, technology innovation and knowledge of the field.

I heard 10-minute pitches where even halfway through, fully five minutes after the start, I still didn’t know what the company was selling.

Everybody likes stories. Personalize. Start with a story. If you have only 60 seconds, then cut it down to 10 or 15 of them. Make the problem and solution come alive.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.