What Makes A Good Startup Pitch? What Makes It Flop? The Experts Weigh In.

You have the idea. Your MVP is built and the website is up and running. Now, you’re ready to talk about your startup to just about anyone who will listen. 

A good business pitch will make or break an early-stage company. But pitching is daunting if you’ve never had to sell an idea in front of customers or investors before. 

So what makes a good pitch? And, perhaps more importantly, what makes a pitch completely flop? As founders gear up for a busy fall of pitching at conferences and competitions, we asked seasoned pitch coaches around the Southeast to share their advice. 

Here’s what they had to say: 



A common mistake new founders make? Not explaining their business model up front, says Juan Garzón, Managing Director of Innovate Charlotte and Executive Director of PitchBreakfast, a monthly entrepreneurial event series in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Through PitchBreakfast and his various ecosystem roles over the years, he’s listened to countless startup pitches, and he says the best pitches are the ones that spend the time explaining that their solution is really filling a large market need. 

That might sound counterintuitive to some founders, who have spent countless hours building out every product detail.  

“Usually, the very early founder is so in love with their product and they want to tell you all about it. But as an investor, I’m not interested in your product or service as much as I’m interested in whether you have a sustainable business model…and whether you can convince me that this actually solves a real need,” Garzón.  

That becomes even more crucial during difficult macroeconomic times, when investor’s risk tolerance is lower. 

“It’s a founder’s job to show that this [startup] is a significant opportunity and that they’ve done everything they can to mitigate the risk for investors,” he added. 



Over the years, Venture Atlanta’s CEO Allyson Eman and her team have helped over 760 founders get ready to pitch in front of local investors.

Her big advance to founders? Cut back on the number of slides and don’t make the slide show the main attraction. 

“Your goal is to gauge the interest [of]  the interest of the investor, partner, potential employee, or customer. You’re not trying to give every detail about how the product works,” said Eman. “I tell founders to get out in the nitty gritty. Go high level and tell your story. Your PowerPoint behind you should just be supporting information. You’re the storyteller,” she added. 


If you go into a pitch thinking that “success” is walking out with a check, Garzón said it might be time to reset expectations. 

“A successful pitch is one where that investor clearly understands what you built, what the opportunity is, and clearly understands the business model. There are 101 reasons why an investor might not invest in you. You may be too early or too late for them. Or maybe you are in an industry that they don’t invest in,” he added. “But if they fully understand what you are doing, they may be able to come back and say, hey, you know what, I like this. I know another investor, you should talk to you, or I’ve got a potential partner or client for you,” Garzón told Hypepotamus. 

“A poor pitch is one where an investors doesn’t fully understand [and they can’t] add any additional value.” 


Featured photo provided by Venture Atlanta