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Smart Answers

Frontier -- What Works

Smart Answers

Q: I am planning to pitch my company to venture capitalists. How should I prepare? --A.R., ChicagoA: The standard pitch to professional investors is a brief PowerPoint presentation that might include a Web site mock-up or a professionally produced prototype. Most meetings last no more than an hour, and for every 10 minutes of presentation you should expect about 20 minutes of questions.

Stick to the basics. Explain what your product is and how you expect to sell it. Be realistic, and cite research. How much will it cost to produce? When do you expect to be profitable? Of course you should rehearse your presentation, even videotape it. Try to anticipate all questions. A confident answer is better than no answer at all, says Elton B. Sherwin Jr., managing director of Ridgewood Capital in Palo Alto, Calif., and author of The Silicon Valley Way (Prima Publishing, $15).

Remember: Venture capitalists read perhaps 100 business plans a week, sit through more than 100 presentations a year, and invest in fewer than 10 deals. You seldom get a second chance. VCs generally have a good idea which projects will get the green light after that first meeting.Have a question about running your company? E-mail us at frontier@businessweek.comBy Karen E. Klein

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