5 Tips for Your Best Pitch with Hayley Barna, Venture Partner at First Round Capital and Co-Founder of Birchbox

Are you ready to pitch your product or business idea to potential investors? In this post, we offer the basic elements of a pitch as well as some insider tips that will help you get the capital your startup needs.

Hayley Barna, Venture Partner at First Round Capital and Co-Founder of Birchbox, shared her secrets to pitching at Project Entrepreneur’s 2016 Summit | NYC: Fundamentals of Funding. Here are her five tips to ensure your next pitch ticks all the boxes.

1. Keep these basic elements as part of your pitch.

Barna believes that every pitch should identify what you are doing, who the customer is and the pain point your idea is solving. Barna suggests adding information or a milestone that explains what your company has accomplished, such as your impressive revenue or the number of customers you have acquired.

Use very simple language and avoid industry buzzwords. Your pitch should be understandable to anyone, even your grandparents. Be very clear about your mission and goals.

2. Bring your product to life!

Offer a very straightforward description of your product and how it works. Show a demo if possible, but if you don’t have one, try to offer a wireframe. Bring prototypes. Do anything that will allow the investors to understand your product better.

Barna says to think big when you are talking about your business to investors. Use phrases that peak an investor’s interest. You need to help them understand that you have a really big idea.

Be clear about who is actually on your team. Offer details on what skillsets and experience these individuals bring to the table. To really impress an investor, tell them who you are going to hire once you get the money and what roles they will fulfill. It’s even better if you know exactly whom you want to hire.

3. Know your competition.

Be very knowledgeable about your potential competitors. Show investors that you are well informed and know how to “break down your industry” to determine where you fit in and what makes you different.

4. How are you going to make money?

Barna notes that this answer is sometimes left out of pitches. Be extremely clear about what you are going to charge, if you are charging anything at all, and what the margins will be. Be ready to answer questions about your revenue model, pricing and know your acronyms, such as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Lifetime Value (LTV). Know what your marketing channels will be and your estimated customer acquisition costs.

If your product has already launched, show the investors how it has performed. Don’t leave this information out as it can appear that you are hiding something. If your product doesn’t have a perfect record, explain what happened and what you learned. The more transparent you are, the better.

Explain what you have learned from your previous small business and how you plan to pivot. Investors want to know how you plan to spend their money in order to grow.

5. Remind your investors why you are there.

At the end of your pitch, remind the investors why your product is an amazing opportunity and why the time to strike is now. Give them a handful of points that you want them to leave remembering. Create the urgency for the investors to make a move.


Barna’s advice comes from her #PESummit workshop, “The Perfect Pitch.” Listen to the entire workshop on episode 14 of our podcast. For more expert inspiration, read 4 Tips to Validating Your Product with Shan-Lyn Ma, CEO and Founder of Zola