Social Leverage managing partner Howard Lindzon and I were having coffee recently in the Crosby Street Hotel in New York City.
We were deep in conversation when Howard’s next meeting arrived, a young man touting an investment opportunity.
“You must be the pitcher,” I said.
A Howard Lindzon meeting is a bit like being on a late night comedy show. As each new guest arrives, the previous ones slide down the couch and continue to participate.
I started asking the pitcher about his previous experience at several big tech and financial firms. He talked at length and in detail about products he worked on, how he sized the market and measured returns.
We got a bit carried away and next thing I knew, 15 minutes had elapsed.
I felt bad for taking so much precious time away from his presentation.
I turned to Howard and said: “I’ll stop talking. You should hear his pitch.”
“I already did,” Howard said.
The pitch, I realized, isn’t the Powerpoint.
It isn’t the projections for market size or returns (most of which may be way off anyway). It’s the person. It’s how they present. How they think. What they know.
And that makes sense because increasingly startups are getting funded earlier and earlier and at larger and larger valuations. What matters is the person and how they can adapt to inevitable roadblocks.
I recently heard about a startup pitching venture capital firms at a $75 million valuation.
The company has no product, much less any revenue. The whole business consists of a short deck.
What they are really selling is their experience and vision.
The trick is sizing up the pitcher.