As I have stated many times on the blog and in my book The Art of Startup Fundraising, the best entrepreneurs are not the best visionaries. The ones that keep succeeding at it are those entrepreneurs that master the art of pitching.
By being a good storyteller there are many positive things that you would gain which include raising capital, hiring top tier talent, and securing major partnerships. It is all a matter of touching people, moving them, and inspiring them. These were all aspects that Steve Jobs and Elon Musk were able to do throughout their careers with Apple, Tesla, and SpaceX.
On every powerful presentation you will need to name the problem, the solution, market potential, competitors, competitive advantage, the team, and the capital that you are raising. In fact, you can access for free my free pitch deck template below if you want to dig deeper which has been used by thousands of founders.
ACCESS FREE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE
ACCESS FREE PITCH DECK TEMPLATE
I was actually deeply inspired to write this post after reviewing the masterful piece that Andy Raskin wrote about the presentation of Tesla‘s Power Wall. You can read his full post here. In fact, I took some of his knowledge, graphics, and commentary to write this piece.
Elon Musk presenting Tesla‘s Power Wall
As an example of what I outlined above, it would be very interesting to talk about Elon Musk and his presentation announcing the launch of the Tesla Power Wall. It is incredible how an easy thing such as a battery is able to move the people in the room to cheers. This comes to show that it is not so much about the content of your message but more about how you deliver it.
THE PROBLEM & THE SOLUTION
Musk does not talk about himself or the company at the beginning of his keynote. He dives into it right away and discusses the problem which is how energy is delivered across the world and the growth in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
Once he introduces the problem he does a fantastic job by inviting everyone in the room to “do something collectively about this“ includes everyone in the room. Moreover this gives a sense of timing. When you are pitching to investors they want to know that you are at the right time in history to be executing your plans with your venture. Timing is everything and Musk does an excellent job at conveying this.
When you are looking to raise capital from investors timing is always important. Timing will not only create urgency for people to jump in and share the journey with you but it will also contribute to generating momentum and traction (e.g press, partnerships, etc).
Something positive about dividing the problem into different sections or parts, like Musk does, is that you are not overwhelming the investor with too much information or text at once.
As you will be able to find on the presentation, the second part of the problem is just an extension of what Musk was discussing in the previous slide. It is repetitive to a certain extent but certainly powerful if the pitch is done in person. The slide gives the possibility to take a pause and to also drop a few jokes here and there to build up the relationship with the audience. Remember that fundraising is first and foremost about building a relationship with the investor. Once that is in place trust is created which ultimately leads to receiving an investment.
Something that Musk is able to do with this slide is what is called background relatedness. He shows several pictures of areas that are taking up space to produce energy. These are things we have all seen in the past on TV, magazines, etc. By getting people to relate to the problem that you are looking to resolve you have the possibility of enrolling them which increases the chances of getting funded.
Later on during his presentation he outlines how there are parts of the world with no electricity wires. This relates the audience with an existing problem they are already familiar with. This helps in cutting short explanations. It also inspires the audience as this product could be used in developing countries and you are opening their imagination to it by not being too specific. Note that nowadays investors are interested not only in returns, but also in the social impact of their investment. Especially if you are in talks with family offices. If you can combine both you are in good shape.
When pitching in person I like demos or videos that will show the investor in a visual way what your startup is all about. In this example Musk is able to get the audience excited. There is nothing like visuals and seeing the product in action to have a good sense of the capabilities of the product and how things may look like in the future with additional financing to execute down the line.
What this shows once again is how design plays a critical role. The way Musk presents this product is basically as a master piece that can be stored anywhere in the house. He has been a big fan of making accessible products for everyone and keeping costs down for his products so when he states the battery is only $3,000 the crowd goes in cheers.
Musk introduces as an example cell phones vs. land lines. He puts the example of land lines and how cell phones disrupted the way we communicate by erasing electricity lines as he says “they are not the prettiest thing in the world.“ The Test Power Wall will be from his point of view a way to have a solution that works wherever you are especially to those that don‘t have electricity today. Perhaps you should take a page out of his book and relate your story to a big event that happened in the past that you can associate to certain degree to what you are doing.
Musk finishes his presentation with a kick where he suggests where people can buy the battery. He also discusses where and how it will be produced and the timeline for shipping. What you will find here is how Musk can describe point by point what really matters without adding additional unnecessary information. He goes straight to the point. Investors like straight shooters so do not add fluff to your pitch.
Talking about demoing a product. At the end of the presentation he tells the crowd how the entire night has been powered by the battery. The audience goes crazy. Especially when he states the work that his engineers are doing will be open sourced.
The full presentation of Elon Musk announcing the Power Wall of Tesla can be seen below.
Some of you may have notice something interesting on Musk‘s presentation and that is how similar it is to the product launches that Steve Jobs used to do in the past at Apple. Lets now take a look at the most powerful presentation from Steve Jobs where he introduced the iPhone 9 years ago.
Steve Jobs presenting the iPhone
Steve Jobs has mastered the art of pitching. From structuring the actual content to delivering it with a powerful story around it. His presentation of the iPhone back in 2007 is one of the most incredible product launches to date and in my mind the best one I have ever seen.
Some of the linguistic Jobs uses definitely helps to increase the level of impact with the crowd. Take as an example the way he starts the presentation setting up the tone by stating “this is a day I have been waiting for two and a half years.“
Some of the linguistic he uses during the time of his presentation includes the following words:
- Isn‘t this cool?
- We just started
- Faster than, better than, etc.
- The best XYZ ever
- We have created the first XYZ
- I am going to show you something incredible
- Truly remarkable
During the first part of his presentation he walks the audience through everything that Apple has done to change the computer and music industry which provides credibility and trust. He moves on to say that his announcement will make another change that day. You should take a look at the reaction of the crowd and the way they have their mouths open.
He talks about smart phones and how complicated they are to use. He says “they are not so smart.“ He later goes on to say that Apple is going to reinvent the phone by introducing into the market a phone that will be very easy to use. So here it is a clear way to describe the problem and how he is looking at solving it. Check out the slide too, so visual and easy to look at if you arena the audience. This makes you focus on what Jobs is saying instead of reading a bunch of text.
Jobs discusses the problem in detail by stating that all smart phones have keyboards and how the user interface is very hard to use. He says that both can‘t work because you can never add new ideas to the product.
His solution is to get rid of all the buttons and creating a giant screen. He goes on to throw a couple of jokes which makes the crowd laugh just like Musk did during his keynote. Something that Jobs does incredibly well, as it keeps you engaged and increases the chances of having the crowd in front of you following whatever you are saying.
Jobs states his product is 5 years ahead via its software with a sophisticated operating system. Again, he is using certain statements that makes him stand out. Nothing to really proof this is accurate but still something that makes a huge difference.
Perhaps there are too many slides on this section. Unless you are Steve Jobs you may loose people in the process. He goes into all the details of the iPhone which makes you at times disconnect. My personal recommendation is always to give a short overview and then go into details if the investor is asking you for them.
As a personal suggestion, if you have a tangible product I would recommend either playing a video of the product in action or playing with the product live. Perhaps the latter is the most powerful. Jobs kills it when he shows how music is displayed, videos, or even movies.
Steve Jobs finishes on a very high note. Jobs provides a nice summary and says “it is the internet in your pocket for the first time ever.“ Phrases of this nature are incredibly powerful.
You can see the full presentation of Steve Jobs on the video below.
To conclude, I always recommend keeping presentations to no more than 10 minutes. As I teach in the Fundraising Certification, which is a 3 week comprehensive course on fundraising for entrepreneurs, raising capital is all about addressing concerns. Each investor will have a different concern and that is what will drive the conversation. Getting the capital in the bank is ultimately a matter of having all these concerns addressed in a powerful way. For that reason you want to keep your presentation to a quick overview so that you can engage the investor right away via their questions.