Disclaimer: This is my experience and my opinion. There are certainly other ways to go about this process; think of this advice as just another tool in the toolbox, not the only tool for the job.
A good pitch delivers a vision while instilling confidence in the product and team. It’s likely that the person you are pitching to won’t know as much about the game industry as you do. It’s your job to teach them something and convince them of the following:
- This is the right team
- This is the right opportunity
- This is the right time
- This is the right game
- They are the right investors
VC investors see several pitches per week, and they may all be great ideas. The key to a successful pitch is to clearly demonstrate that not only is your idea a great idea; it’s the great idea. It’s your goal to not only show why it’s a smart investment, but why it’s a smart investment right now.
It’s important to prioritize whatever aspects of the game, team, or opportunity that will resonate with specific investors. This comes with practice, from pitching over and over, building your network, and constantly iterating on the pitch itself. Don’t be afraid to personalize a pitch for a given VC, knowing their background, interests, and previous investments.
Every pitch should have all of these parts, but the order and depth of each will be determined through practice:
- Mission Statement
- Game Details
Including a mission statement is pretty basic, but absolutely essential. Assume that whomever you’re pitching to knows nothing about the company and will likely tune out 5-10 minutes into the pitch. You can still ensure that they will get the message if it’s presented clearly upfront. This will also help set context for the rest of the meeting and get the VC into the proper headspace to evaluate the pitch.
Great game development requires an exceptional team, crafted specifically for the task at hand. That is the goal of this section: introduce the key people on your team, explain why they are exceptional, and why they are a perfect fit for the type of game/company you’re proposing to build. Go into detail here. VCs want to hear that members of a team work well together, and it will instill confidence if you make it clear that there is love and trust on your team.
Defining the opportunity for a company or game is about showing the VC that there is a problem to be solved. This problem should be presented with market research and additional details to prove that there is a real issue waiting for a solution. It’s a good idea to create this like a narrative and even discuss it from the point of view of your players. Be passionate about this problem and let it show during the pitch. Do you really want this game to exist? Great. Does it make you mad that no one has made this game yet? Even better.
If the VC asks why everyone else isn’t chasing this opportunity as well, you’ve done something right. The opportunity should appear so obvious that it’s borderline insane that the problem hasn’t been solved already.
This is the solution to the problem presented in the opportunity section. It isn’t essential to go in-depth here (you will later), just be sure to cover all of the points explained earlier. If there’s a demo available for the game, this is the right time to show it. Remember that the goal is to not get too deep into the product here, so make sure that any demo used is constrained. The objective is to show the level of quality the team can deliver, so be sure to only show exceptional work.
With the pitch winding down and all of the cards on the table, it’s time to recap and explain the bet. If the VC has been following along and they are bought-in, this is a chance to cover the specific difficulties and risks. This is also a great time to focus on why this specific VC is the right fit for the game and company. This should be a summary of all the points covered. Be ready to show your passion again; it will really matter here.
It’s a good idea to keep the pitch short, ideally under 25 slides. Extra market data, game screenshots, team history, and everything else should go into the appendix. Try to anticipate all of the questions that might be asked and be able to answer them with the slides in the appendix. There is nothing more satisfying than being ready to answer the questions received at the end of the pitch.
If you want to keep your pitch short, there isn’t a lot of room to cover details about your game. I would recommend having a completely different pitch deck that focuses exclusively on the game. This should cover budgets, team ramp, milestones, competitive analysis, market analysis, and any other information gathered to plan out your game idea. Be ready to pull this out at the end of the pitch or in a follow up meeting.
It’s hard to give recommendations on pitching because there are so many differences in style and personality. My best advice is to practice like crazy, find some mentors to practice on and get feedback from, and always be moving forward. Some pitches will go better than others, but don’t let that get you down, just make it better next time. There is so much advice floating around on the “right” way to pitch, and while that information is useful, you need to create a unique style that works for you, your game, and your company. And remember, passion goes a long way, so don’t be afraid to show it.