Susannah Duke of Pelion Venture Partners on How to Sharpen Your Investor Pitch


Susannah Duke started her career at Goldman Sachs before working in management consulting with startups, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies. Today, as a principal at Pelion Venture Partners, she invests in seed and series A startups across fintech, marketplaces, and enterprise software under their $370 million fund.

On June 14, Suz will host pitch practice and office hours for Founders Network members. As part of these events, she’ll offer guidance to founders on how to nail their message, visuals, and pitch deck. Here are her tips on how to sharpen your investor pitch.

Investing In Tech Founders

Pelion Venture Partners is a $370 million early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on software investments across the United States. Suz has worked at the company for nearly five years and focuses on B2B, SaaS, fintech and consumer-facing platforms.

Suz works to identify high-potential startups across the software sphere  that are well-positioned to take on capital. From this experience, Suz has reviewed countless pitches, messaging strategies, and product visuals. This has given her ample insight on what makes a strong pitch. In order to have a sharp message, Suz says it’s important to tailor your content to each audience you get in front of.

To learn more about how to sharpen your investor pitch, see if you qualify for membership to join Founders Network.

The Power of The Story

 A well-designed and informative pitch deck is a foundational element of startup success. Even more integral is knowing when to share which type of information.  A recent study found that on average potential investors spend just three minutes and 44 seconds looking at a pitch deck when it is not presented to them.

According to Suz, there is nothing quite as essential as bringing storytelling into your pitch. By focusing on a narrative arch, founders can appeal to the human side of their audience – and when effective – help listeners place themselves within the story. Stories evoke emotion. A robust story shows that you’re onto something worth a listening ear.

Mistakes To Avoid

When coaching founders on their stories for an investor pitch, Suz has clear advice on what to avoid. 

“The number one mistake I see is founders getting stuck in the weeds. They’re so deeply ingrained in the technology that they’re building. Sometimes it’s really hard to pull out and see and be able to tell the high-level vision for the company,” she says. “I often see founders fall into details that are not relevant for an investor.”

Suz believes founders are more successful when they take the time to ensure their message is clear, concise, and able to be digested by a number of different people. Even more important to remember than this,  is to not get discouraged throughout the pitching process, she says. 

“You’re going to hear a ton of ‘Nos’, but eventually you’ll find the right partner for you,” Suz says. “It’ll be worth all the searching in the end.”

During Suz’s pitch practice and office hours on June 14,  founders will get an opportunity to hone their message, sharpen their visuals, and get their startup story pitch ready. To learn more about how to sharpen your investor pitch, see if you qualify for membership to join Founders Network.

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