by Aidan Galasso
I attended Tiger Startup School: Crafting an Investor Pitch at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship on April 2 at the University of Memphis. Mike Hoffmeyer, the director of the Crews Center, gave the talk. He discussed the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching their business idea to investors and how to avoid them.
The first piece of advice Hoffmeyer offered was that “every word counts.” He cautioned against using too much text in the presentation. When possible, he suggested using just one line of text.
According to the entrepreneurial expert, the visual aids should be used to evoke emotion and to make the audience “feel the discomfort” that your product seeks to erase. “You can’t use words as a crutch,” he said.
Although he spends most of his time at the Crews Center advising Memphis students with an entrepreneurial dream, Hoffmeyer is also works at the FedEx Institute of Technology where they do research and instruction in commercialization, corporate research and entrepreneurship. He described entrepreneurship as “not an academic discipline but a way of thinking.”
The next stage of the pitch Hoffmeyer addressed was the market size. He counseled entrepreneurs to keep their use of numbers limited, advising them only to highlight key figures. Instead of overusing numbers, Hoffmeyer suggested being creative and sticking to the story to keep investors interested, as too many statistics could result in the audience tuning out.
The final piece of wisdom offered at this session of Tiger Startup School was to make the conclusion the strongest part of the presentation. This is the part investors are most likely remember and therefore an ideal ending is a phrase or thought that will make the presentation stick in the audience’s mind. The conclusion can help differentiate one business from all the others a potential investor has heard from that day.
Hoffmeyer offered a simple tip that many people remember from their high school days. “Tie it together like an essay,” he said, “Just be more concrete.”