Investor Pitch – Style Still Needs Substance

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Marketing Communications

There were no sweaty palms at the Colorado Cleantech Initiative this evening. Calm, competent confidence was a common thread between both presenters, CLEANtricity and Green Garage. In a forum for investor pitch practice, the two cleantech companies had concise presentations, but both left the investor panel wanting more substance around the capital investment as well as market entry and growth plans.

CLEANtricity is a small scale, adaptable vertical axis wind turbine with SHAPEshifter technology that can withstand high winds and produce in low wind conditions. Its differentiator: more power, more hours of the day versus other wind and solar options, could have been more powerfully stated (no pun intended) at the beginning and end of the presentation to create retention of that position. Additionally, investors asked for both acknowledgement and explanation of the criticism vertical wind technology historically receives in order to overcome market perceptions around this product. Finally, as in almost all investor pitches I see, they weren’t clear about the money. How much did they want and how will that return on the investment?

Green Garage took a completely different approach. CEO Ryan Ferraro has a casual, easy-going style backed by the confidence of working with an impressive list of investors and industry leaders for the past three years. He made it fairly clear that while he was asking for capital to expand their retail locations and launch a franchise program, there was really no fear of getting the money. Perhaps it was the practice audience that leant itself to a more casual presentation style in the form of an “update” by the CEO, but that had some audience members bristling while the investor panel ate it up. And here’s why. Green Garage has a brand and a story to tell. It isn’t just a cool concept, it came from a personal story that evolved into a business story that isn’t just cute graphics and copy – it’s an inspiring approach to the entire business via exceptional products, services and customer experiences that Mr. Ferraro could recreate within his presentation that made him so compelling.

On the surface, confidence and style went a long way to opening the minds of the investor panel to the products and services being pitched. However, at the end of each presentation, the moment of enrapture gave way to the reality of investing in a viable cleantech venture—which means you’ve got to give them what they want—the numbers.

The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA) is the new co-host of the Colorado Cleantech Initiative with Golden’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

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