I’ve always enjoyed the interesting and enlightening conversations that often happen in the back of an Uber. I’ve talked about almost everything from the situation in Syria right through to how to poach the perfect egg. But one thing I never expected to be educated on is the very thing that I spend most of my days training.

Last month, on a Thursday afternoon, the Uber App was inundated with requests from start-ups and entrepreneurs eager to join myself or one of six other business leaders in the back of an Uber for the opportunity to pitch their business. As part of a global initiative known as UberPITCH, I was thrust into the back of a car and geared up to hear the future of the Aussie start-up eco-system.

Amongst the many miles, complimentary mints and tiny bottles of water, was a flurry of Macbook Pros, prototype products and enthusiastic punters. There were a few that managed to hit the mark from the get go. Also I’m a big fan of people who think outside the box and do things differently, so I was delighted when one guy jumped in with a Ned Kelly bucket on his head and (what I hope was) a comedian who pitched her vision to make Surry Hills a Gluten Free Zone.

All-in-all it was a brilliant day with brilliantly passionate people. Surprising for not only how many people in Sydney have an idea to pitch (6,000 Uber pitchers applied in under 8 hours) but for how diverse the range of start-up ideas being launched.

But unfortunately there were a few too many over engineered slide-decks and pitches that left me confused and with little understanding of what the business actually did long after waving them goodbye on the sidewalk. The reality is, there were countless flaws in the majority of pitches I listened to, which shouldn’t be surprising given how little support and training currently exists in the market for entrepreneurs.

My learnings can be summarised into the following five pitching basics that anyone who is looking to secure angel investment should read before pitching their business in a cab or otherwise (before you get me started on how to pitch your actual business model - that happens at our forthcoming pitch event).

FLAW #1: Not Being Succinct – If you can’t say what you do in one succinct sentence that an average person would understand then chances are the average angel investor won’t understand either.
 Tick off these three elements:
  1. Position where your company plays,
  2. State what product or service your company sells,
  3. Clearly identify your target market
e.g. We are a software business, that offers a cloud based accounting service to small business owners.

FLAW #2: Not Speaking With Confidence – Don’t read off your page or even show me a pre-prepared powerpoint.  Know your business and tell me about what it is and why it is awesome in a conversational tone – if you can’t then your business is not cooked enough to invest in or I don’t get the confidence that you will be able to sell to customers, staff or partners which will make-up the backbone of your business. Sure rehearse but then rehearse it so it doesn’t sound rehearsed.

FLAW #3: Not Speaking Frankly – Angel investors usually hear a lot of pitches so have a keen ear for the uninformed use of buzz words. Don’t say “we are all about curation” if you aren’t a librarian, say that your product “start’s slow but will eventually go viral” or throw in how your vision will “soon be able to use virtual reality”. Use simple language that doesn’t make you look like you are a walking jargon bank or someone whose vision is just a conglomeration of the latest band wagon trends designed to impress.

FLAW #4: Not Being Authentic – Investors buy the entrepreneur first and the business second. You don’t get past first base if they first can’t buy into you. The best way to achieve this is to be authentic, passionate and of course likeable. You should also nominate why you have an authentic connection to the customer need or problem you are solving – story is a great way to achieve this.

FLAW #5: Not Having An Ask – Angel Investors want to help and they also usually have a minimum and maximum threshold on how much they would invest. Tell them how much you are looking to raise and often including the valuation and / or the type of investor you are seeking eg We are raising $500,000 at a post money valuation of $1.5 m with an expected close by end of December. But mostly we want someone who can help us access retail markets.

If you want to learn more about pitching your actual business model we have an intimate event next week with some fast paced skills development and an opportunity to pitch to some great angel investors – register now here.

Comment from Mark Schnurman -- Think of adhering to these laws not just during new business pitches, but any time where you are proposing an creative idea, strategic idea, etc.   The rules still apply.
-- Mark Schnurman
   President  -- Filament Inc.