How to get constructive feedback from a VC pitch?

I was at the Citrix Synergy conference (San Francisco) last week presenting Hey Maya.We were one of 5 companies presenting from a pool of 80 that applied to the Citrix Startup accelerator. Each company was given 6 minutes to present and 2 minutes Q&A by the judging panel.

The judging panel was a few VC’s (Ignition, Azure, Andreessen-Horowitz), and Jason Calacanis.

Besides these guys there were 6 others from Citrix.

We did not win. Script Rock did an awesome job and they deserved to win.

Jason did his best Simon Cowell impersonation and was thoughtful, constructive in his criticism and very specific in his feedback. The rest of the guys did not have much time to ask questions or provide feedback or did not really think much of our pitch – either ways, it was okay.

The surprising part is how many people just echoed his exact comments back to me, in fact using the same words he did and a good measure of cliche’s thrown in.

Either they all thought of the exact same thing, (which I doubt) or they all just followed his lead.

Every time you make your company’s pitch as an entrepreneur to VC’s realize that they are in the selection business. They see over 1000’s of pitches each year and are bound to notice patterns. Some of them are personable and thoughtful, but many are just pulling cliche’s from the bag.

“Its not a big market”, “You need to focus”, “Its not differentiated enough”.

While these high level pointers are largely useless, and most VC’s wont have more time to tell you any thing more, a few folks I have met actually offer solutions and not just problems.

If the market your targeting is small, are there other ways to position it such that you go after a big market?

If there are too many “features” you are looking to develop is there one that really sticks out to them as “something that has legs”?

If the product is not differentiated enough, are there 1-2 things that might make it different?

I would highly advice you to ask questions of the VC and put them on the spot to really offer “constructive criticism” and not just banalities.

You’ll then really know the good investors from the herd.

One thought on “How to get constructive feedback from a VC pitch?”

  1. I had been struggling with this question for some time now, and this pretty much gives me a direction to work in.
    Thank you very much for this post!

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