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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 6 years ago

How to ... Pitch investors

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David Diamond won't believe you if you tell him your business idea is so unique there aren't any competitors.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

David Diamond won't believe you if you tell him your business idea is so unique there aren't any competitors.

As the founder of StartupAngel.net in Naples, Diamond has heard hundreds of investment pitches. “Don't be afraid to say you have competitors,” says Diamond, who also is the co-founder and president of DeAngelis Diamond Construction, one of the largest commercial builders on the Gulf Coast.

Diamond says investors are leery of hype because many are entrepreneurs themselves. “Investors are going to see through that real quickly,” he says.

Diamond, who teaches university students how to pitch their business ideas, advises entrepreneurs practice their pitches and videotape themselves with their smart phone. “I try to tell people they need to have two or three pitches ready to go because you don't know how much time you're going to have,” he says.

You'll want a short one-minute elevator pitch in your repertoire and another one or two if you get a longer audience with an investor. “Any time you have an opportunity to speak in public, always say yes,” says Diamond, who confesses he hated speech class.

The pitch needs to be about people. “Everyone thinks their idea is unique, but it probably isn't,” Diamond says.

Diamond says investors look for tenacity, those people who are bright and have overcome adversity in the past. “Is this the person who can execute this idea? Are they going to stick with this because it's going to be hard?” he says. “You need more than the passion; a lot of people are passionate, but they still quit.”

Stand out with a short, simple and memorable pitch. Use a funny photo, for example. Tell investors how you discovered your business idea with a personal anecdote. “It needs to be told as a story, and a lot of people forget that,” says Diamond, who listens to many high-tech pitches. “Techies want to get into the weeds of what they created, but you need to tell it as a story.”

—Jean Gruss

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