What’s the worst private equity pitch you’ve seen?

How to lose respect and alienate investors in a private equity pitch

I asked the LP panel at SuperInvestor 2015 what the worst pitch they’ve ever seen was. On the panel were Catherine Lewis La Torre, Anna Dayn, Spencer Miller and Marc der Kinderen. Between them, they review 400 fund pitches every year and they’ve seen them all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Of those, they eventually invest in about 10 of them.

The pitches they recalled as the worst show how a single snapshot of a fund manager’s behaviour determines the investor’s decision whether or not to continue the conversation.

Here are four pitch mistakes you definitely don’t want to replicate:

Worst private equity pitch | No. 1: The sleepy fund manager

Anna Dayn recalled a first-time meeting with a fund manager from Asia. Five or six men were sat across the table talking when their colleague at the end fell asleep. Anna advises, “Get in your Zzzs ahead of the meeting because that just looked awful to us.”

Private equity pitch mistake | No. 2: The unbalanced fund manager

Catherine Lewis La Torre told us about a group who spent an hour talking about one of the weaker companies in their portfolio.  It gave the impression they did not know how to focus. They should have used their time more wisely.

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Worst PE pitch | No. 3: The injured fund manager

Spencer Miller met a managing partner who asked if he could lie down as he had a bad back. From the boardroom floor he then proceeded with his pitch. Spencer said, “I didn’t know whether to sit down at the table or on the floor with him.”

Bad private equity pitch | No. 4: The egotistical fund manager

Marc der Kinderen spoke of a group of six or seven professionals who came to deliver a pitch. He was impressed that so many were in attendance, and was looking forward to a strong presentation. But the founder had other ideas, reeling off his own achievements in one long stream of ‘I bought… I did… I sold… I made…’. Marc added, “The moment that one of his juniors began to speak, the founder took out his iPhone and started emailing. That was enough. We want teams, not one guy.”

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Professional support will give you the best chance of success

Benjamin Ball Associates prepares private equity teams for investor presentations. We combine our knowledge of the private equity sector with executive coaching, pitch polishing and intensive role-play. We can support the pitches and presentations of both funds and portfolio companies, maximising your chances of securing investment.

If you want to improve your pitch to investors call Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email louise@benjaminball.com. We’ll make your pitch confident, memorable and effective: one of the best your prospective investors experience, rather than the worst.

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Video: How Private Equity Funds can pitch, present and persuade more effectively

Paul Farrow is a Partner at Benjamin Ball Associates. In this video from SuperReturn US East, Paul discusses the common mistakes made by Private Equity funds when communicating with potential investors. He reveals the unexpected personality trait that investors look for in fund managers, and why LPs don’t want to ‘be taken through your pitch presentation’. He shares essential advice that will improve your fund’s messaging, help you stand out and impress prospective investors. Click the play button below to watch:

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