The Pitch Meeting Setup

We’ve known for a long time that one of the most stressful things for entrepreneurs when they pitch us and other VCs is the initial setup of the meeting when they need to be meeting and greeting the folks in the room and, at the same time, figuring out how to connect their laptop to present their deck.

That combo is a real challenge. Some entrepreneurs navigate it with grace and some really struggle with it. But it is a pain for everyone.

We used to have a cable that the entrepreneur could connect their laptop with but that had its own set of problems as not every laptop would work with the cable.

We use Zoom now and we ask the entrepreneur to get on our guest wifi (no password) and then fire up zoom, join our room, and share their screen.

That works better, particularly when we let the entrepreneur know in advance that is the way we do it so they can download zoom onto their laptop before the meeting.

But even with all of that, we still have this awkward few minutes where the meeting is getting set up.

I am curious to hear from all of you about the best meeting setup situations you have run into in your careers. We do not subscribe to the theory that making it hard on the entrepreneur shows us something. We do subscribe to the theory that making it easy on the entrepreneur is in everyone’s interests.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. kenberger

    For remote *video calls*, I favored zoom for a while, and so did some key clients. But then Google Meet came along, integrated natively into GCal, and has grabbed most of the action.

    1. fredwilson

      I like Meet tooMy USV colleagues like Zoom so that’s what we useBut when anyone suggests Meet to me I’m all for it

  2. awaldstein

    Big fan of Zoom ever since my buddy Bill Tai (early investor in it) introed it to me early this year for a project we were working on.Don’t have a good answer to your question so will stayed tuned, listen and learn.Making things hard to test the mettle of the participants is just bullshit in my opinion.

    1. Ruhinda Ruganda

      I think the pitch should be presented in prerecorded format and use the pitch meeting to field question and unpack the idea. This minimizes the variables to disaster and gives everyone a much needed review.

      1. awaldstein

        The rule of thumb in sales is to make everything as informal as possible.It you end up doing very little of the talking, you invariably are on the right track.There are lots of tricks to do this but no platform or way to make it work in all situations.

      2. LE

        I think the pitch should be presented in prerecorded format and use the pitch meeting to field question and unpack the idea.I can’t see how that makes any sense. If you are selling, and that is what you are doing you are selling, then to also JLM’s point in his reply to my other comment you are telling a story. And if you are telling a story you want tointerpret the signals that the other party is sending outshowing how they feel about things that you are saying. Expressions and micro expressions. If they appear confused you want to clear up the confusion (you should be able to read this is someone’s eyes easily). If they appear excited you want to take that into consideration in your pitch as you go along. If they shake their head in disagreement you want to figure out a way (on the fly) to clear up that confusion. I simply can’t see how pre-recording a presentation and then taking questions makes any sense at all when selling like this and in this situation.Pre-recording is what you have to do when running an ad or a commercial to reach a large number of potential customers. It’s not interactive in any way. Being in front of someone in person is the most interactive thing out there. You should use every and all signals to your advantage and the way to do that is by not using the same thing for everyone.When I am selling I could be on the phone or I could be doing it by email. Each has it’s specific reason (in person is very rare because of geography). But if I want the most signals then I want to be in person in real time if at all possible. 2nd would be by phone so I can hear tone of voice and that type of nuance. Then I can perfectly tailor what I want to sell (no matter what that is) by interpreting signals that the person that I am selling to is sending off. [1]Not theory or something I read in a book, all things I have actually done that have worked for me.[1] Another reason you want to deal with decision makers in selling among other reasons.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I view our office as our house. You would never make somebody feel uncomfortable in your house.It is totally bush league and frankly ignorant to make things hard.If you have an invite to come to my house you will be treated correctly.You will be asked if you need to use the restroom to freshen up. If you need a soda, water, coffee, or mint.I don’t go as far as some of my Las Vegas clients who know how to treat people and offer me a hot towel in addition to confusing me with the choices of water.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup… I agree but in no way do i consider my office and home the same. Decorum yes, but that is where it stops.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Figuratively. I visit a ton of offices (one regret is I should have taken a picture of each reception area)Some places are absolutely bleak. LE and I discuss that. I don’t believe in ridiculous over the top offices, because that too sends a message.I have been to more than one meeting ask for a water and get told you should have brought one. One was where I got to the right building 15 minutes early then sent to the wrong one. It was August when I got back to the right one I was hot and a minute late. I was berated for being late and I asked for a water was told no. I refused to start the meeting. I was begrudgingly given a cup of warm water. It was a major insurance company. We didn’t get the business and I didn’t care.I’ve been in conference rooms that look like police interrogation cells. I’ve been in bathrooms that were disgusting filthy.I’ve had to intervene on the phone more than I can remember when somebody thinks my employee is a punching bag.I’m sure in your career you’ve encountered bad behavior, even intra-company.I know the theory if we treat the person nice we won’t get the best price we won’t get the most out of them. We have to be demanding!Sure we miss our commitments and sign-offs but it doesn’t matter, the date isn’t moving.Seth Godin uses a good quote the customer is always right…..or they are not a customer.I believe in rank and position.But I spend as much waking hours in offices as I do my home.No, you don’t just get an invite to my office, no you can’t just walk in from the street, same as my home.But we’ve all been places where we were made to wait, treated rudely, and talked down to. You think to yourself the business would be great to have they won’t be so bad. And then you were wrong.I don’t ascribe to the VC relationship being a marriage, but I do know that in any relationship you will hit bumps. 16z charges partners $10/minute if they are late to a meeting.You can tell this is near and dear to my heart. I get that sometimes you just need the funding or the business. But I just can’t do business that way.I tell people this is our (not my) house. Treat it and guests accordingly.

      2. LE

        It is totally bush league and frankly ignorant to make things hard.By the same token does the military (say the marines) (or even fraternities) make it easy to belong? Or do they put up various roadblocks even on purpose to weed out the faint of heart and the weak? Even that accomplishment that you have to your credit (which you have never discussed here with the initials ‘ES’) requires a certain degree of super effort to become a reality. Why is this different? What am I missing?Now I am not saying you have to make things hard always on purpose. But a certain amount of adversity (and being able to overcome it) is actually a factor. I am just guessing that for VC firms they don’t focus on that because there are other factors that are way more important. So it’s similar to a man dating. Looks are 90% and everything else does not matter as much. But should that be the way it is? (Ask any divorced person and you will find the answer).There is also a case of knowing the ‘lay of the land’ and thinking ahead. Not showing up and making sure you are prepared and having a plan b etc.No issue with the niceties at the office that you mention and that makes sense.No right or wrong answers a matter of taste both ways can end you up in the same place most likely.

        1. Adam Sher

          Is the important adverse event setting up your computer, getting to pitch day, or presenting? Maybe all three but I bet there will be plenty of stress during the presentation and any Q&A session.Unless there’s a power failure, a presenter should be able to come prepared to set themselves up quickly and painlessly.

          1. LE

            Being an entrepreneur is about solving problems and being creative as much as anything. You will have to solve problems every day and on the fly with no playbook and figure it out. With nobody to ask for advice. So it’s a good idea to get used to coming up with creative ways to solve problems. Also don’t google everything for the answer. What’s the rush? Why the crutch always?In this case perhaps the idea is to practice at lesser known VC firms where you don’t care about the outcome. Prior to trying to pitch the one you are really interested in. That is what someone can do. Unless of course you want things to be easy and aren’t willing to put in the effort.Think of similar with college interviews (or any selling). There are a hundred colleges that will let you interview with them prior to pitching the ones you actually want. So you get to practice on them. Same with dating. Same with selling. You don’t start out w/o practice when you can get practice where the outcome doesn’t matter. In short ‘don’t blow your load’.

          2. Adam Sher

            Also don’t google everything for the answer A lot of value to this.

          3. Lawrence Brass

            But how can you stop the trend?When chatting in slack if one asks a question or even at meetings where everybody has his or her laptop in front, there is a high probability that you will get and answer inspired on or a link.. from Google.When that happens to me I reply.. you know that I have Google too, right?We are loosing the abilty to think with the information we have available in our heads.And, based on this, we need a new type of search built for knowledge.

          4. Adam Sher

            Totally agree. The problem isn’t new. Before, you’d get some generalized regurgitation from an encyclopedia or Cliff’s Notes. But I think using Google makes the issue more obvious. The issue being that it takes work to understand something well enough to integrate it into your thinking and then say something informed about a topic.A great analogy to the above is how people use Powerpoint. It’s easy to rely on Powerpoint to present for you and most people will not prepare their spoken words ahead of time. They rely on the on-screen writing. Yuck! A step better is to write down what you want to say and read your speech. Nice try but yuck and your slides may be repeating you. If you spend so much time learning the words that they become part of you and your emotion and enthusiasm comes through – now you’re presenting. You are able to alter your words on the spot depending on how much time you have or how your audience reacts. The latter takes a lot of work and it is hard. But that’s the best way to do it.Have you used Wolfram Alpha? You need to think in order to receive useful search results (unless you’re using it as a basic calculator).

          5. Vasudev Ram

            >We are loosing the ability to think with the information we have available in our heads.Good point. But the part of the sentence after “think” is redundant :)>And, based on this, we need a new type of search built for knowledge.Right. As a means to promote that:Build a search engine that, when you search for a phrase, tells you three times (each time you try to use it), to think for yourself first. It can use different words each time, to soften the blow, for the wimps out there. Bonus points for using some “AI” nonsense (er, tech) to make it more jazzy or realistic(-seeming) [1][1] “Artificial intelligence beats natural stupidity”. Anon. Famous AI quote.

          6. Lawrence Brass

            A nephew is having interviews for colleges in the US and had to travel to Sao Paulo in Brazil to have his with Wharton. I think he is after an MBA. His father told me that the type of questions were about simple problem solving. “How would you organize a dinner here for your interview mates, today’s evening”. He was surprised that there weren’t more technical questions.For an MBA?.. Wharton, MIT or Berkeley? Those he has/had interviews with.

          7. LE

            colleges in the US and had to travel to Sao Paulo in Brazil to have his with WhartonThat sounds more like he might have been meeting with an alumni not with Wharton staff. I did those interviews where I am. I found it honestly a waste of time. The school essentially said that what a alumni says is worth very little to them (not those words but that is what they meant). So I decided not to waste any further time talking to people about the school. What they wanted was for an alumni to hype the person up about Wharton. One person interviewed totally muffed any chance of getting me to write him a good recommendation. For one thing he started asking me about things around the campus and I had no clue at all. Why would I? Second I told him things he could do to improve his chances given what I thought were his strong points. I am not faulting him for asking just mentioning that the school gives you zero framework for what you should do. That to me is a fail. Typical academia. And that is a good school that should have their act together.Anyway what does the student do? He sends me a thank you which was rote and thanked me for what I told him about the school! Which of course I never did. (And once again he was not toying with me either). Total fail. A few other students didn’t show up for meetings or didn’t cancel either. School even said ‘not everyone will meet with you that we send your way’. Well what’s with that?? I’ve got better things to do. I thought these would be winners not mediocre applicants that the school was having meet with alumni.I think from my brief experience with doing this it was more like ‘we care’ theater than anything else. I hate bs like that and decided I wouldn’t participate any further. Sounded nice though. Poorly run program.

          8. Vasudev Ram

            Repeating the quote I put here on AVC a few weeks ago:”I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain…

        2. PhilipSugar

          Nope. I am the biggest asshole in the world, my wife confirmed it on my way out the door this morning. That doesn’t mean I need to have a shitty house.

      3. Lawrence Brass

        I want to go to a meeting there. Doesn’t matter about what. :)Can I have coffee AND mint?

        1. PhilipSugar

          They also have other items like “foundation” and feminine products which we put in out guest bathroom.

        2. PhilipSugar

          Thought of you, went to a meeting yesterday, still water from Iceland and Fiji, vitamin water, sparkling from Germany and France that was just the water, not the soda, coffee, or tea.The poor receptionist started to ask, and then said: Can I just show you and you pick? I went for the Icelandic water, and Lavazza coffee.

  3. jason wright

    Give the entrepreneur their ‘personal prologue’ moment – don’t be in the room when the entrepreneur is setting up.

  4. Semil Shah

    Have the presenting party arrive at least 15 minutes early and have someone there to greet them & help them get set up before the meeting. It should be easy for both the VC and founder to follow.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. I should have been more clear about this in my post. USV and most VC firms have entrepreneurs come pitch during our marathon Monday meetings. So they are walking into a room in use and full of people. That is why it’s so challenging and stressful

      1. Semil Shah

        Can you use different rooms? (One for the private GP meeting, and one where the founders present.)

        1. fredwilson

          Maybe. But the front room is the best room for this at USV

          1. William Panak

            2 fewer pitches each Monday gives you the time needed for 10 minute-setup transitions. It is a trade-off, only so much can be run through one room in one day, and a great room venue is important, not like a candidate interview booth.

          2. JamesHRH

            Sent up a dead terminal laptop. Have everyone forward their pitches in advance of the meeting. First thing Monday AM.Line up the decks in advance.

          3. PhilipSugar

            If you are pitching me and only have a deck……..I am pitching you out.

          4. JamesHRH

            Show girls?

          5. rafisyed

            We have two rooms of roughly equal size and flip between them, with each founder getting to the room early to set up. It works very well.

      2. karen_e

        Please feel free to send teams my way for pre-event coaching.

      3. nipulpatel

        It would be cool if there was a hardware product with one piece plugging into a display/projector and a second piece plugging into a computer, wirelessly creating a second display without apps or connecting to the same wifi network.FWIW as a founder, I appreciate the context under which you’re trying to solve the problem but it feels like much more than a pitch day issue. The setup process is a pain in many partnership meetings, sales meetings, general coworking spaces, and more. I put the responsibility on myself to find a system that works or learn to navigate the bumps in the process without letting it get to me. Starting points – always ask about the setup process in advance, and always carry your own cable adapters.

      4. David Bonitati

        I brought my deck in on a thumb-drive, plugged it into their large screen monitor and was up and running in less than 60-second.

    2. bcarroll1234

      If you’re using zoom, just have them dial into the meeting from your lobby. That way they’re already connected by the time they enter the big room.

  5. Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk

    Totally agree. The best solution to this IMHO is to have someone meet the founders 10 mins before and let them have the room alone getting set up, or at least not with the people they are actually meeting/pitching to in the room.

  6. gkamstra

    I had an interview once where they just gave me 15 min in the conference room alone with coffee/water, and a chance to review some of the materials we’d be talking about. That could be an option? (I.e. you just frame the pitch as – “it starts at 2p, but we’ll make sure the room is open 15 minutes early if you want a chance to get settled and boot up your laptop.”)Puts it in their court wrt whether they want to (or can) come a bit early, and does it in a way where it’s not like you are being rude by making them wait, you’re just providing them a chance to get settled if they want to take you up on it. Speaking personally I would WAY rather have a chance to do that vs. sit outside or in the lobby waiting to come in. I always show up >15 minutes early and guessing most people pitching you do too.

  7. Steven Anthony Ridder

    Huge Zoom fan and prefer that method if it’s available, but having to present to clients around the world, I just bought a Google Chromecast for $25 and can plug that into almost any HDMI port and share my screen to it.

  8. Paul D Zettler

    We had difficulty early on with some VCs, but we ended up just buying and bringing our own HDMI cables to hardwire into a screen if there isn’t zoom or some other internet based/wireless way to connect. I’ve also bring hardcopies of the demo/presentation as a point of last resort.Best i’ve seen on VC side is a step-by-step “how to setup” handbook that was sitting in the conference room for Apple and PC users. Then have an ops manager/admin come in and asking if we need help setting up or something to drink added to the experience.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. I agree. We have a little lucite thing with how to connect on the conference room table

      1. Kent Karlsen

        Same hardware test-environment with cables/screen/videocanon/software in different smaller room, when that connection work, it will very likely work in main conference room too.

  9. Tom Hughes

    I don’t believe in being un-welcoming or “making it hard” for any presenter; but I do note when someone, scheduling a meeting to occupy an hour of my time and theirs, then fails to plan simple logistics in advance. It’s rude to be late to a meeting; it’s also rude to show up “on time” but then spend ten minutes fiddling with dongles and whatnot.My theory on why this happens as often as it does is that the familiar etiquette of, say, home hospitality doesn’t fully work when carried over to business. If you invite someone to your home it’s reasonable for you as host to make arrangements (food, drink, hang up their coats, whatever). That’s basic etiquette and clear in advance to both host and visitor. But in a business setting, you may be “hosting” the meeting (it’s in your office) but much of the agenda, as well as the vehicle for a demo / presentation, is necessarily set by the visiting presenter. So the familiar social etiquette doesn’t operate as readily, and there’s not much of a convention to fall back on.

  10. Georgene Huang

    I’ve been meeting with a lot of VCs lately and my best experiences have been when an assistant or receptionist walks me into a meeting room, helps me hook up my laptop to Wifi and the bigger display and then subsequently brings in the venture team for introductions. It only takes me a few minutes to get settled. This is more efficient and less socially awkward than trying to do introductions and equipment set-up simultaneously.

    1. fredwilson

      What happens when you are walking into a room full of people who have been meeting there for a while which is typically the case on Monday partner pitch meetings at VC firms ?

      1. Georgene Huang

        If I am in a situation where I have to choose btw multi-tasking and focus (and I believe it is always a choice), I prioritize the people. Making eye contact, remembering their names and establishing that human connection is more important than the technical set-up and I will either deal with tech set-up later or in the worst case situation, I will hand my wifi-connected laptop around to demo the product or show a deck.

      2. Rick Robinson

        Do you ever allow presenters to just speak without projecting, so the focus is solely on them? Maybe offer printouts?

      3. Gary Chou

        Clear the room—mandatory bathroom / drink / email break for everyone except for the partner who has the relationship. That partner brings the presenters into the conference room. Once they’re setup, bring everyone back in and do intros.

  11. Kris Green

    I agree. Anyone who presents a lot should already have their bag of dongles that lets them connect to almost any AV setup, and familiarity with how to connect to Zoom or anything like it. But being invited to have the room for 10-15 minutes before the meeting, to set up and get ready before the group arrives, is the best scenario for both the presenter and the audience.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. But we can’t offer that sadly .See my comment above .I should have been more clear about that in my post

  12. Chimpwithcans

    Honest question: Is it mandatory for VC meetings to have a digital presentation? If someone gave you physical booklet with all the detail, and then just engaged with you personally at the meeting, how would that be perceived at your company?

    1. fredwilson

      That happens. It is rare. But it happens .It is also somewhat common for an entrepreneur to pitch without any supporting materials. It’s hard to do well

    2. LE

      If you give people a booklet or something to read ‘in real time’ (not for later) what do they do? Well they are looking down at the book and they are turning pages and they are not looking at you. If they are looking down then you can’t see what their eyes are doing (as easily) and you don’t even know what they are reacting to (positively or negatively). If you have a slide or video you can see their eyes and you can control what they see and when they see it. Right?So the way I see it a booklet is a non starter (in this situation). The only exception is when you are selling and you don’t want the eyes on you because it makes you feel uncomfortable. So you show up at a cold call and you hand someone a ‘prop’ and they then focus on the prop and you feel less uncomfortable. So that is one case (and there are others).I’ve studied and used all of this btw in real life (not something I read somewhere).

      1. JLM

        .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.If you give someone a presentation, they will flip forward in the presentation and ignore the presenter.A presentation is a story. The presenter is a storyteller. There is a way to tell that story which is better than just providing the info.Be a storyteller.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Adam Sher

        The lit agrees with you. In 1:1 settings, a prop can be helpful. I’ve had requests for physical materials (even after receiving the same info electronically) from prospects. I do everything to avoid physical materials but sometime’s it’s a necessary evil.

      3. Chimpwithcans

        Yes I see what you mean. I get the feeling sometimes that pitches and business propositions are hampered by a focus on this third object (presentation slides, booklets etc) rather than on the persons in the room. I’d like to get to the person quicker than getting to the slides or the booklet. But I’m not a VC so I’m curious how it all works 🙂

  13. Rick Robinson

    This is the single biggest problem staring all entrepreneurs right in the face, and has been since meetings started using tech elements for presentations. And i don’t mean entrepreneurs *presenting*… I mean it is a hugely obvious problem for someone to SOLVE. Zoom is close, as are others. But still there’s always friction. Big opportunity, i’d say.

    1. Rob Underwood

      Absolutely. Whoever makes it so it “just works” is going to make billions. I agree Zoom is close, probably the closest.

      1. Adam Sher

        What does Zoom do better that Uber Conference and GoTo Meeting don’t? I’ve used all three (and others) and don’t seem them as too different.

  14. Rob Underwood

    Here Is a list of things that basically don’t work and have only gotten marginally better if at all in the last 15-30 years and represent massive opportunities. Saying this with 12+ years of management consulting under my belt, in which I had to do the following a lot (daily):- connecting a projector, especially at someone else’s office (a prospect, client, potential investor, etc) or at a conference (use case Fred describes above)- teleconferences and videoconferences, esp those for which ppl are attending from different firms using different hardware. Anyone ever have a teleconference not start at least 5 minutes late since someone was “having trouble dialing in”- printing, especially printing at someone else’s office (IP printing anyone?)Simply put basic office and meeting tech doesn’t work, at least when you bring ppl together from different companies with heterogenous tech. Too much of what we still use today assumes we alll work with same employer, using the same hardware/software, and are all on the same NT Domain.PS: Dialing into a conference call from a car should be a capital offense.

    1. leeschneider

      “Anyone ever have a teleconference not start at least 5 minutes late since someone was “having trouble dialing in”Made me laugh

  15. Sebastian Wain

    I believe in having multiple alternatives instead of a single one. Chromecast is great when you just want to fire a Slides presentation from your mobile phone but if you want to connect your computer to a TV it is great to have HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA (!) and a Thunderbolt dock with all of these.

  16. JimHirshfield

    Got a computer already hooked up to the big screen? Got a browser? Just use Google Slides

  17. Angelo Santinelli

    One thing that we’ve been doing at the Babson Boot Camp is eliminate the PowerPoint in favor of a thoughtful walk through of key elements of the business model- target markets (size, growth, issue), value proposition, differentiation that leads to competitive advantage. We find that the pitch is a crutch and when questions are asked that take the entrepreneur off track it usually leads to more awkwardness than having to plug in does. Our belief is that the entrepreneur should be able to have a discussion without the props.

  18. Abel Chernet

    How about asking the entrepreneur to send you the presentation in advance? Have your own computer set up with a standard USV email that’s already connected to the screen? The entrepreneur can still make changes to the deck last minute and send it 5 min before the meeting if required, you can plug the cable out of the computer before the next entrepreneur walks in (and potentially delete the email), and can’t see why the entrepreneur would be against sending the deck to you

  19. jamiew

    +1 Zoom and instructions for it beforehand. Most remote-friendly too. Chromecast and AirPlay nice ideas but I always found them kind of unreliableAll of the above terrible if you’re trying to show any videos

  20. William Panak

    Frame and execute like an executive job interview where the office manager greets the candidate, shows them to the interview room, gets coffee and snack ready, and answer any questions. Candidate doing pitch arrives 30 minutes before pitch meeting begins, everything is set up when VCs walk in. Candidates with lots of experience in job hunting will recognize the set-up and feel comfortable, this is just like a job interview.

  21. lairdb

    Without the option for a setup period, the best I’ve experienced was when it was made clear on the way in that the audience would be engaged in something else for a few more minutes while I set up — the associate who came and got me was knowledgeable about the cables and setup and stood ready to help with remotes, etc. if I needed it, but the participants were wrapping an unrelated discussion.Obviously it would have to be a non-sensitive discussion, and maybe it’s a bit of a hassle to have a queue of 5-minute-topics to use during setups, but perhaps still better than staring at the presenter while they fumble, etc.(ETA: I always get nervous when presenting requires connectivity, WiFi, etc. — dongles and cables may be annoying, but video-out to video-in is dirt simple and dirt reliable; even if you prepped me for Zoom I would have my dongles and cables at hand.)

  22. iggyfanlo

    Have all entrepreneurs pitching send their slides in advance or thru Google slides (if you want to allow last second changes) and in order you want and they are set up to go

  23. Jan Schultink

    I am in the process of coding a new presentation app and fixing these stupid time consuming and stress inducing is a major objective for me.With all the different presentation formats, presentation software (desktop, cloud), and devices, I think there is only one solution: have everyone convert to PDF (sorry no animations) and ask them to bring a USB stick to be plugged into a computer that is fired up and working.I would use a laptop that is totally isolated from your network for this, for hygiene 🙂

  24. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Invite people to “hunt in pairs” – or present without slides (way cool if you can carry it off)Hi I’m X, and let me introduce Y to you while (s)he fumbles with the technology. They will walk you through topic Z later. Oh thank you – I’m sure Y would love a coffee (is that a European norm?) we both take it white without.Advantages – Calm authority from XTeam – One person is not a team, a team needs to have clear role delineation and Y is not only window dressing but functionalOpportunity – for presenters to take lead and gracefully appear to hand it back during the first few moments of the meeting. (they need to be able to do this to sell while in fact determining pace and outcomes).One talks – while the other notes response, feedback, uncertainty etc,Disadvantages – Only if you have a problem with people thinking you need someone to hold your hand. – Such people will not make it anyway.

    1. William Mougayar

      Hi James!! Great to read you again 🙂

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Hi William – Yes floating around AVC often enough but busy – Seems we have found what people want – which comes as a bit of a shock after all these years. Was talking to a nice blockchain startup out of Zug when in Vienna a couple of weeks back. You came up in conversation ;)Let me know if in country – a beer could be fun.

    2. Jay Batson

      +1 on this. It helps to encourage the CEO to have 2-3 minutes of “useful” talking (not simply idle banter) that he/she can say while helper is setting up tech.If solo founder, encourage them to bring a friend they’re comfortable with who is good at laptop connectivity & presenting tech.

  25. John Herron

    Have 2 Zoom/Webex/Meet accounts. Presenters connect in a prep room and load content to the unused account. A simple schedule would suffice. When presenter has finished their pitch, an AVC member in the meeting room toggles accounts and the next presentation is up and ready to go before the presenter walks in. (NB: haven’t actually tried this approach 🙂

  26. Mila Kantcheva

    Could you have an on-point person on your team be the presenter for all meetings and the entrepreneur is asked to email / post in shared folder the pitch deck in advance of the meeting?Happens all the time on the corporate side too!

  27. Pointsandfigures

    Get the deck prior. When they come, no deck presentation. Have a conversation. If you need to refer to the deck, have a partner’s computer or tablet pre-loaded. Go to the slide you want to talk about.

    1. Farhan Lalji

      I like this idea, generally ask people to send materials before as a pdf if possible so I can read through it before hand, would be good to have it up on a room machine and presenting and the founder can just go through it or refer to individual slides.

  28. William Mougayar

    I’m not sure there is a perfect scenario for it. You will get the smooth with the rough starts.Some humour along the way can help forget the hic ups and diffuse initial stress.

  29. narikannan

    One fool proof Plan B our startup CEO had in his back pocket everytime is to carry about 10 copies of the pitch deck printed in color, double-sided. After the first two minutes of set-up failures go to Plan B. Waste of trees, I know. But time may be invaluable in this case!

  30. PhilipSugar

    I am going to offer a couple of suggestions.1. I would definitely put a password on the Wifi. We keep a completely separate ISP (Comcast) and do not have guest access ever be able to hit our network. Yes you can segregate at the router, but don’t trust it, but I do not want somebody accessing child porn on my guest network from outside my office.2. We have two conference rooms. One is very small, but it has the same setup as the large one. Everything. So you prep there. We call it the Tardis. Dr. Who reference.3. Keep a drawer with every single dongle, charger, connector, power converter labeled with a Brother Labeler in both with the name of each conference room and a list of what you have in each.

    1. LE

      I agree with a password (definitely I mean why not?) but I think the fear of someone using it for an illegal purpose is way overblown with respect to it being trace to your IP and getting you in or causing you trouble. This idea that law enforcement is running some massive operation to scoop up people by monitoring internet traffic (or getting access to it by other means (because they were monitoring someone else but saw it incidentally)) is almost certainly not correct.I would also say for the people who password protect their networks how many of them are rotating the password so that someone who gets it today can’t access it next week? My guess is the password stays the same and does not change.In that case having a password (that doesn’t change) may be more of a risk than not doing so.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I dealt with an issue of somebody (not related) having a server unsecured for child porn. My neighbors SIL is head of MD State Police. It is not fun.

  31. Mike Zamansky

    Zoom meeting screen sharing!!!!! Brilliant. I feel stupid that I hadn’t thought of it.This is going to be super useful in certain classroom settings!!!!!!!

  32. JB

    The best way I have seen this done is at Wharton. I came to listen to 8 startups pitch and the professor had each startup send the deck in advance and had it uploaded to a Google drive folder . When the startups came in, the professor just opened their deck and handed the remote to the team.

    1. Adam Sher

      Are the pitches saved in PDF or PPT format (or another format)? Google Drive defaults to opening presentations with Slides. If that’s the case, does slides preserve animations and transitions from PPT?

      1. JB

        most are in pdf, as i assume the professor asks for them in that format

  33. Sierra Choi

    This is a great idea….however, a wifi always needs a password. As for myself, I definitely won’t connect to a wifi without a password.

  34. Richard

    Copy a TedX stage, and call it FredX.

    1. JLM

      .Diversify into package delivery during holiday season?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Richard

        Founders should take the pressure off and have some fun carry in your own white shade screen use a slide carrousel. The sounds of the old game (click, mechanical gears) ! t’s like a little league game with wood bats. Just more fun.

  35. John Fazzolari

    Think the founders should run the meeting as they feel is appropriate. For a small firm like USV sending supporting materials in advance and having an engaging conversation can be more effective than the “pitch”. Think that founders who know their business and vision are comfortable with this and thrive on being able to provide responses to the flaws VCs look to point out in their product or business. A formal presentation works better for a larger audience based on my experience (>25 people). My opinion and am sure some firms may dislike this.

  36. LIAD

    Q: if the screen is at 12 o’clock in relation to the table, where does the entrepreneur sit during the pitch/Q&A, are a bunch of chairs available and they take their pick or do you direct them to a certain chair – or do they stand throughout? – if i enter an empty conference room where it will be me vs a number of others. first act of business is working out the opportune seat in regards others, lighting, the door, screen etc and also subtly finding the aircon control and making the invariably hot uncomfortable room much cooler.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Presenter always for me sits at 6 o’clock. Participants 9 and 3. Mixed if there are more than one person. Equal proportions to each side.

      1. LIAD

        head of the table eh – very entrepreneur friendly.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        As a guest I prefer 3 o’clock, first seat near de 6 o’clock seat which is usually the hosts’ boss in my mind. Entering the room I move and take it if I can. If I am not the speaker I move towards the 3 o’clock center.

  37. Lawrence Brass

    Have you noticed what laptop brand they bring mostly to pitch meetings?If they bring macbooks, make them happy and have an appleTV connected to your big screen configured to be connected to the visitor WiFi they will use. Remote over the table, backup in a drawer. WiFi name and password, if any, passed to them on arrival printed on a card.Check the quality of your visitor’s WiFi setup. Ideally, have the access point inside the meeting room. You don’t use the visitors WiFi, so you don’t know if it works decently. Check it.An RJ-45 connected to your network and available at the table, configured for DHCP. Archaic and effective. It just takes a… click. Flat network cat 6 patch cables in brilliant colors look nice!But most of all, the best setup for me is when you enter the room as a guest and have previously met or talked with one or two of the hosts and know they are on your side or at least they know part of the story you are about to tell.

  38. William Mougayar

    What if they send the presentations ahead of time and you tee them up from your side.Just like they do at conferences for speakers. Speaker shows up and starts clicking and talking.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      >What if they send the presentations ahead of timeTried and tested advice, often not used.Boy Scouts’ motto: Be Prepared.

    2. PhilipSugar

      Works if all you have is a presentation.

  39. JLM

    .I go to a similar monthly cattle call which uses Zoom. [Didn’t know it was Zoom, had to call to verify.]Thirty minute time slots, so there is usually a bit of a log jam. Usually no more than 5 presentations.PDF format.Each presenter makes their connection via PW protected WiFi before they enter the room. There is a room with a monitor they can use to doublecheck whatever they want to doublecheck.There is a Chromecast backup which is also pre-loaded. Have never seen it used though I did see it demonstrated. Seamless.There are printed slides at the choice of the presenter.Presentations are videoed/recorded (including slides) to be available to others after the fact.One guy from the sponsor group handles all of this outside the room.Presenters are given the offer to arrive with a flash drive and have the sponsor’s guy take it from there. This is the choice of the vast majority of presenters. Loaded into a file before the presentation.Change time — presenter to presenter — is less than a minute. Seats are still warm when #2 sits down. Get your coffee and water outside the room.Delegate this type of stuff. Tell somebody what you want and let them make it happen.Been doing this for years.Went to another place a week ago which did the same thing with Chromecast and HDMI. Backup was hardwired HDMI.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JamesHRH

      My solution, as it exists in the wild.

  40. Alan Warms

    Do we still need PowerPoints? I find them distracting. Is it possible anymore to come in – just talk have a conversation, and then go to a demo?

  41. Zhao Hanbo

    Why can’t they put their deck into Google Slides, share it with you and use your laptop to present?

  42. aminTorres

    Does not work for everyone- assumes macs – but airdropping the file to the room’s computer takes less than 30 seconds to set up. (I would not care, but some entrepreneurs may not like the idea of sending their deck to a shared computer – though you can delete it at the end.)I went to an office recently where they had airplay setup I think it was. You see a network, when you try to show your screen in room’s monitor a code appears, you enter that code on your laptop, and boom!. done…

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Yep, such is life at the walled garden. After all, it is a garden. 🙂

  43. Katie Boertman

    Mersive can help with this dilemma. Our Solstice solution is a wireless collaboration tool that allows users share an unlimited amount of content easily on meeting room displays. The interface is incredibly intuitive, and since it’s software-based users can download the app beforehand and then connect with your display quickly when they arrive. You can find out more here:… [Disclaimer: I work for Mersive.]

  44. Tim Cooley

    The way we do it is have them send all their presentation a head of time and upload it onto Gust, so it is in two places. We also have them bring it in on their own laptop. We require them to have the presentation ready to go and we tell them we have an HDMI cable, so make it work for you. So if they need a dongle, they need to bring it.Our presentations are fairly short, so the transition has been fairly smooth. Many times entrepreneurs will change their slides seconds before the presentation, but we always have a backup. It seems to be working quite well.One time a presentation was acting strange and we were able to swap computers without effecting the pitch or going over on time.Another thing we do is have all the entrepreneurs show up at the same time. If there is an issue with technology we are able to swap presenters while figuring out the tech solution. It isn’t the best user experience for the company that presents last, but they also don’t get delayed in presenting due to tech issues from the previous presenters.

  45. Brook Shepard

    For years I used a portable projector, and plugged it into my iphone.Animations weren’t great, but set up was never more than 30 seconds.

  46. george

    I’ll give Zoom a test drive: The problem we experience, remote presentations that require viewing a deck, along with video + audio onscreen at the same time.

  47. cavepainting

    A new feature in Zoom can solve this and make it easy for everyone.Allow for a waiting room and queue where upcoming presenters can connect and test their presentations. The organizer just has to select the next presenter in the queue to go live. They can even provide chat help on the waiting room to help presenters get ready.

  48. Asim Aslam

    When I’ve had to pitch there’s usually some sort of discussion going on as the setup happens. I feel like it’s a good way to keep the conversation flowing and I found it to be a distraction from the setup itself.

  49. Matt Zagaja

    Every single week I do orientation for Code for Boston. After I make announcements I walk down the hall into a meeting room and have to setup my laptop after breaking it down from the main space. The way it works is I know what chair I’m hitting and where the connector is. I start setting up my laptop and at the same time ask everyone at the table to go around and give an introduction. The time other people are talking gives me enough time to setup and listen to them at the same time. I’ve timed myself, about five or six people in I’m setup and ready to go. HDMI cable, do not trust someone else’s machine with your presentation. If there is a hiccup you have to roll with it. Mentally I always assume my computer can fail.

  50. Andrii Degeler

    I used Chromecast for a similar purpose. It allows screen sharing and can be set up in under a minute, provided the user is connected to the same WiFi network and has Chrome installed on their laptop.

  51. sachmo

    They should send a PDF (only a pdf), in a specified format to someone at AVC. The person at AVC pulls up their deck. Also, as a backup, they can have the PDF of their deck on a thumbdrive in case something happens. This way, the same laptop is always setup with the projector / TV system, and the only thing you are doing is opening up a PDF.I use to run a micro VC group in Miami, and made sure everyone sent decks weeks ahead of time. Of course we only had meetings once a month, but the format was similar. Entrepreneurs pitching one right after the other, so we had to be very efficient.

  52. Chris Phenner

    I say this (as a die hard seller) about situations like these: ‘You never know the room into which you’re walking’ (especially, whether you have the right cable/dongle). I also believe ‘the more polished the org to which you present, the lamer the A/V tech awaiting.’ Glass and steel towers in midtown (and their conference rooms) are the worst offenders.I carry a polyeurothene case of cables into every meeting — double digits of cables and connectors — and I still experience ‘that awkward few minutes.’Fred’s question is framed digitally. He says ‘We have Zoom, what are your thoughts?’ and I think that misses an opportunity to be a unique VC firm for entrepreneurs.Fred also knows and likes Seth Godin, who posted this answer:…If USV wants to be ‘Entrepreneur Friendly’ or ‘Presentation Friendly,’ the friendliest thing USV could do is insist all presentations are PRINTED (per Seth’s post, above).If you have ever sent a deck in advance to a firm/team who prints in advance what you send — and the only tool of your meeting is a pen (gasp) — it is so, so great. The pen serves as a listening tool and everyone is working from the same information.’Working Backwards’ is a Quora Post (per Amazon) that reinforces what I say above. Everyone reads — at the beginning of a meeting — the document that sets stage what is about to be discussed. It’s a ritual. Man I wish this guided more meetings.Have entrepreneurs send what they want to say. Print that for them (because it’s kind) and relieve from them the hassle of their having to endure ‘Zoom’ (or whatever). And if viewers need to be remote, share PDFs and tell them ‘sorry you’re missing out.’

  53. Rick Mason

    I was on a sales call fifteen years ago and my contact at the company said as we entered the board room that they’d been having problems with the projector. He said do you have one of your own to use? I did not so I fired up my laptop and the image came up on the screen upside down! We both took turns fiddling with the projector and nothing we could do would get the image to display right side up.The executives stated filing in and I began to sweat bullets. Now I did have print outs of all my slides but was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough. The CEO came up to me and introduced himself. He said I see you’re having problems with our projector. Then he said I know how to fix that. I thought to myself what option did we overlook? He then proceeds to lift up the projector and turn it upside down! I looked at my contact biting my lip and we were both trying hard not to laugh. The CEO’s common sense non-technical solution worked just fine.

  54. Sunil Founder Prijector

    Shameless promotion! But you all need to buy Prijector!

  55. Sean Percival

    Hey Fred, we make a video meeting product that makes guest presenting like this easier. It’s how we do presentations in all of our meeting rooms as well, including with guests. They can screen share with no login/app setup.It’s like Zoom with your own meeting room but it’s on a simple URL. You just open it on any screen in the conference room. The guest does the same and you’re both looking at the same presentationIt’s avail at

  56. Gregory Magarshak

    I know what I would do if we ever presented to you. Given what you said…We would just go to and it would automatically connect to our presentation with peer-to-peer web streaming :)It should be available for everyone in early 2019, so you can use it instead of zoom.

  57. Sagar Tandon

    Interesting! We actually try not to have offline meetings (as some entrepreneurs needs to travel and some are based out of the same city, we want to level playing field for everyone in first round) before we are sure to invest and this comes after our first IC approval and if IC members wants to ask some specific questions, we give entrepreneur an online slot on Zoom for Q&A.

  58. Mike Young

    Have you explored using Liven ( for this? You can have them upload a deck and just give you the 3-letter code for it. They can present it from their phone or laptop and you can follow on your phone or laptop. Good, quick, and lightweight solution.

    1. Mike Young

      I should add – it supports almost any presentation type (Keynote, Slides, PowerPoint, PDF… even Prezi) *and* has full animation and video support. Don’t think there are any other platforms that can do that!

  59. David DC

    This is a great topic and one much underappreciated. I attended somewhere in the region of 10 – 15 VC fundraising meetings last year in which momentum was totally lost as a result of setting-up issues. These meetings are visceral as much as cerebral and the feel of the audience being lost is palpable as a result of a mere few minutes fumbling with cables and panic-stricken eyed people desperately attempted to rectify