17. The Ask


Make the most of every pitch.

WHAT IS YOUR purpose in pitching? What is your goal for the specific meeting in which you are pitching?

RULE 35:
Every presentation includes an “ask”.

If this is the investor pitch for the first investor meeting, don’t expect the result to be an investor writing a check. The goal of a first pitch is to get to the second, more detailed pitch. Or to a due diligence conversation or two, which hopefully leads with a request for legal paperwork and, eventually, some money.

If this is a recruitment pitch, it may end with a “yes,” or, more likely, it will end with “let me sleep on it.” Plan on the latter, and be pleased with the former.

If this is a sales pitch, the results will depend on the complexity of your sales process. For simple sales, push for a “yes” before the meeting ends. For a complex sale, a good goal is a follow-up meeting or a demonstration or a trial. For more on sales, see The Next Step: A Guide to Startup Sales and Marketing.

In all cases, have a goal in mind, and, during the pitch, ask the audience to step up and take an action that meets that goal.

Even if you are simply pitching as part of an event, with the goal of letting the audience know your company exists, set an actionable goal and ask the audience to do something: Try out your product. Sign up to your mailing list. Follow your social media feeds.

Don’t waste any opportunities when pitching!

Enibuuko—[The Ask]

“Reaching our goal of two million farmers requires $250,000 of investments. This is being raised as preferred shares, at $1 million pre-money valuation, with the first $75,000 already committed. The use of these funds is to create additional revenue-generating services within MOBIS, while expanding our marketing and sales efforts to reach all 5,000 SACCOS in Uganda, as well as some CHAMAS in Kenya.”

Asking for Funding

Investor pitches traditionally ask for money. However, in the U.S. and elsewhere, the securities laws are complicated. If you are making a pitch to a large, public audience, check with the group who invited you to pitch to see whether asking for money is allowed. Often, it is not allowed. For pitches to professional investors, angel groups, and individual angels, an ask for money is expected.

The form you should follow to ask for money is quite specific. It is expected to be in a precise, jargon-filled language that is explained in detail in The Next Step: The Realities of Funding a Startup.


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