Give Us Your Pitch: Presentation Training Prepares Businesses for MGCS

Shannon Beeman
March 30, 2011

Presenting your company to a room full of high-level investors is a uniquely challenging experience. Just ask Kevin McCurren, executive with Intervention Insights in Grand Rapids. His company presented at the 2010 Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS), and while he had already crafted a sophisticated investor presentation, finding and covering the relevant points within a short timeframe took a lot of thought and practice.  “Doing a ten minute presentation is actually much more difficult than doing an hour, simply because you have to be so concise on your message,” he said. “It requires a lot of presentation skills, but also a refinement of the message.”

Through a partnership with the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and the New Enterprise Forum, MGCS presenters are given the opportunity to train with seasoned investors who help hone their message prior to the event. “This is one of the best opportunities each year to get their company in front of investors, so it’s really one chance to make a good first impression,” said Phil Tepley, SBTDC Technology Team coordinator. “We are coaching them to help make sure they’re doing the best job in getting their story across in those ten minutes. We want these presentations to be stellar.”

Presenters work on dry-run pitches, receiving feedback and follow-up consultations if needed before hitting the MGCS stage. McCurren was able to shrink his 70 to 50-slide presentation to include only the most relevant information. “They were very specific: ‘I’d get rid of this one… I’d get rid of that one… this message wasn’t very clear…’” he said. “I got to a very nice presentation that was very concise, very clear, and came to a point where there were two or three slides that could really explain our message.”

Tepley said most entrepreneurs are doing two full-time jobs: running a business and raising money. “Sometimes the ones that are doing a great job doing business aren’t putting in enough time and effort into the raising money side of things, and we help them make sure they get as polished as possible for the event. A lot of times people will be trying to sell their product. The business itself is the product in this presentation.”

The MGCS proved to be a success for Intervention Insights. “We walked away with several key investment contacts,” McCurren said. “We went there knowing several companies that we wanted to be able to make contact with – we met their criteria. We knew which ones would be potentials so we had a chance to sit down and talk with them, and actually are in conversations with some of them right now on a Round B.”