How Venture Capitalists Really Assess A Pitch
Having worked for two VC firms before entering academia, Lakshmi Balachandra was mystified: Why did a proposal that looked so promising on paper become a nonstarter when it was actually pitched? She spent almost 10 years capturing what happens in pitch meetings and quantifying the results, and drew four broad conclusions: (1) Passion is overrated--VCs prefer a calm demeanor, which they equate with leadership strength. (2) Trust beats competence. (3) Coachability matters--most angel investors want to be hands-on mentors. (4) Gender stereotypes play a role--VCs respond poorly to high levels of stereotypically feminine behavior. Entrepreneurs should approach the pitching process less as a formal presentation and more as a give-and-take conversation in which attitude and mindset matter more than business fundamentals, she says.