Pitching Investors Over Zoom: 9 Practical Tips for Startup Founders

Author: Nate Matherson

Nate Matherson

Nate Matherson

5 min. read

Updated May 10, 2024

Fundraising isn’t easy for most founders. It is a long and emotional process that can be very difficult.

To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic changed fundraising literally overnight. Today, the vast majority of pitching and fundraising happens over Zoom. No longer are founders being asked to drive up and down Sand Hill Road, meet in small coffee shops throughout SF or NYC, or spend a meaningful amount of money getting around to all of these meetings.

Pitching over Zoom has a ton of benefits and it has opened up fundraising opportunities for founders all around the world. Founders can pitch 50 or more investors in a very tight window over Zoom, making the process much easier. 

At our company, ContainIQ, we recently raised a $2.5 mm seed round, having pitched 93 different investors all over Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and the like.

But before you start virtually pitching investors, consider these eight tips to improve your pitch.

1. Don’t interrupt your co-founder or the investor

When pitching over Zoom, it is sometimes difficult to know who should be speaking when. If you are pitching alongside a co-founder, it is smart to game plan ahead of time and decide which one of you will be answering which types of questions.

For example, if you are the CTO, know that you are responsible for any questions related to the product and infrastructure. If you are the CEO, know that you are responsible for any questions related to GTM and finances. 

And when a potential investor begins speaking, let them fully finish talking and take a breath or two before you start talking. One or two seconds of lag or connection issues can be solved with a deep breath before speaking.

2. Know when to stop talking

In-person, it is quite a bit easier to get into the ebb and flow of natural conversation.  However, Zoom creates the tendency for founders to keep talking and ramble on. 

When investors ask questions, answer them directly and then stop talking. Silence in between questions or in between different sections of the pitch is completely fine. 

Remember to stop talking. It is that simple.

3. Ask questions to increase engagement

When pitching over Zoom, it is quite a bit harder for investors to stay engaged. The constant distraction of SMS notifications, emails, and the like makes it even more difficult.

Pitching over Zoom forces founders to try even harder to keep investors engaged in the conversation. By asking investors questions throughout, it works to pull them back in and keep them engaged. The sample questions below are quite useful:

  • Did you get a chance to look at our deck, website, etc. before the call?
  • Would it be helpful if I gave you some background on myself and my co-founder before we begin?
  • Have you invested in any companies in similar or tangential spaces?
  • Are any of your portfolio companies using {insert related technology/software/product here}?
  • How much do you know about the total addressable market?

Asking even simple questions can keep investors engaged in our pitch. Founders often enter into pitch mode, speaking for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping, but even a short 30 to 60-second break can help free up the conversation.

At the end of the conversation, it is completely fine to ask investors for customer intros too!

4. Show a live demo

Pitching over Zoom makes it even easier to give product demos. Over are the days where you clunkily need to plug your computer into an HDMI in an old investor office. Zoom has made it natural and seamless to give product demos. And you will find that investors love them.

Be prepared to show a live demo on the call. This is another way to keep investors engaged in the conversation, and it also gives them the chance to ask more in-depth questions on specific features.

It also gives you the chance to expand on how customers are currently using your product and to tell customers stories as you address the features on your screen.

When doing the live demo, take your time and intentionally try to slow it down. Take deep breaths throughout the demo. Even if it feels too slow, you are probably going at just the right speed or even too fast.

5. Work to improve your sound quality

Pitching from home or from a co-working space can get quite noisy. Before hopping on the call, consider installing a noise cancellation or echo removal tool.

I’ve used Krisp, but there are plenty of others out there too. These tools remove the distracting background noise, and in my case, the noise coming from the preschool below my office.

6. Clean your laptop camera

Before joining the call, I always recommend cleaning your laptop’s camera. You can purchase a cheap and reusable screen cleaner for less than $5.

For a couple of bucks, you can improve your appearance, helping you look more professional. If you find that your laptop camera just isn’t cutting it, you may want to consider purchasing a mountable camera for even higher quality. 

In either case, whether you’re cleaning the camera or upgrading, the point is that you want your image quality to be presentable. No smudges, grainy image quality, or cracks that make it difficult to see you as you present.

7. Use an ethernet connection when possible

If you are pitching from home or from an office, I strongly recommend using an ethernet cord to improve your internet quality. Ethernet cables can be purchased for less than $10 and provide a direct connection between your laptop and the router.

Newer laptops, like my Apple Macbook Pro, require an adapter in order to plug in an ethernet. If you are an Apple person like me, you can purchase an ethernet adapter for about $20 at Amazon or BestBuy.

8. Keep your background professional and clean

Your Zoom background can say a lot about you. Before getting on camera, make sure that the room behind you is as professional as you are. Clutter, dirty laundry, and pets might be OK day-to-day. But investors want to focus on you.

Removing added distractions in your background will only help investors focus on your startup’s pitch.

9. Don’t stop pitching

Fundraising is a numbers game. During the pre-seed and seed stages, it is quite common for founders to pitch over 50 potential investors.

Oftentimes, first-time founders get discouraged after only a handful of meetings. However, it often takes 10 to 20 meetings for the pitch to really come together. And by the time you’ve reached 30 pitches, you and your co-founders will really be in sync. And don’t forget, you should schedule all of your meetings in a tight window.

Whether on Zoom, in-person, or a combination of the two, founders shouldn’t take any one particular investor too seriously. Pitching is a numbers game and founders should work to pitch as many potential investors as possible in a tight two to three-week window.

Content Author: Nate Matherson

Nate Matherson is the Co-founder and CEO of ContainIQ. Nate is a second-time founder building his second venture-backed startup. Outside of work, Nate is also an angel investor having invested in 27 startups and is a Board Member at Blankets of Hope, a 501(c)3 non-profit.