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.

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Tim BerryTim Berry

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