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Mar. 29, 2013 10:30 am

Find your story: Advice for investor presentations from “Pitch Doctor” Steve Bowman

Steve Bowman, who calls himself the "Pitch Doctor," held a pitching bootcamp for entrepreneurs this week at the University City Science Center.

Steve Bowman, "The Pitch Doctor," offered advice on pitching to investors at an Science Center event this week.

Entrepreneurs are kind of like journalists.

They’ve got to find “the story” of their startup, said Steve Bowman, who calls himself the “Pitch Doctor,” and use that to sell their startup to investors. It could be that you have a team of veteran entrepreneurs or that you’ve developed a new technology or that you’re an industry expert who sees a gap in the market. Whatever it is, find it and feature it prominently in your presentation, Bowman said.

Science Center staff is planning future events with Steve Bowman and wants to hear from entrepreneurs: When it comes to pitching to investors, what are you interested in learning?

Email quorum AT sciencecenter.org

Bowman, who owns his own Media, Pa.-based business consulting firm and also works for Morgan Lewis, gave a startup pitching bootcamp Wednesday at the University City Science Center‘s Quorum. He’s been in the area for more than two decades and previously taught public speaking and business writing at Wharton.

Below, four tips from Bowman’s presentation.

  • Avoid too much detail. You just want to give a “top of the trees” look at your startup, Bowman said, since the first investor presentation acts as a screening process. It’s not necessary to get in the weeds. Leave more detail for later, he said. 
  • Focus on the business, not the product. You want to spend 80 percent of the time on business and 20 percent on product talk, Bowman said. After all, the business strategy is what’s going to make investors their return.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about valuation, but don’t include it in your slides. This falls into the “too much detail” pile, Bowman said. Still, it’s important to have an answer prepared because investors will use this as a test “to see if you’re out of your mind,” he said.
  • Minorities and women entrepreneurs: the strategies are the same. Given that the majority of investors are white males, we asked if Bowman had any specific strategies or thoughts about how women or minority entrepreneurs should approach pitching. Not at all, he said. “There’s nothing you would do differently,” he said, though your cultural identity or background could be a useful part of the startup “story” he suggests you find.
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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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