Diving into Silicon Valley culture and successfully pitching investors may seem intimidating, but you just have to keep things simple. 


Photo: Jason Squires

Silicon Valley

“The best pitch is one that clearly explains what you do,” Goldstar Events’ Jim McCarthy said. “You can personalize it to what the investor or promoter really wants. It’s kind of shocking how hard it is sometimes for people to just state what they do and provide the basic information.”

He added that if he can’t understand the pitch in a minute, he views it as probably not worth understanding.

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When Spaceland’s Mitchell Frank is being pitched, he says he’s “looking to figure out if it's something I already have, or something that I need, or something that’s going to make me money. Probably a combination of the three.”

From the perspective of a journalist who hears tech pitches for stories, Bloomberg News’ Adam Satariano said that one thing that turns him off is hyperbole.

He explained, “People pitching what is a very simple product as something that’s going to change the world, which is a tendency particularly among some Silicon Valley startups to overstate what your product is doing. If it’s a simple idea that solves a simple problem, just go with that.”

Moderator Dave Brooks of Amplify agreed, saying, “When you start hearing the jargon, when you hear something is ‘slippery or sticky technology.’ I recently heard somebody say it ‘creates a buttery experience.’ If you hear too much jargon its almost like a red flag.”

Works Entertainment’s Luke Pierce, who oversees the careers of Home Free, Taylor Davis, and Alex & Sierra, said that when he’s getting pitches, whether it’s ticketing opportunities, marketing direct to fanbase or merchandise opportunities, “it’s all about exploring the relationship with artists and their fans.”

He said the management company considers pitches from the fan’s perspective and “whether or not we’re able to get our fans to adopt a new technology, which is an incredible challenge.”

Just because the technology is there isn’t enough to warrant a new product. Satariano said, “One of my favorite questions to ask somebody when they get through a pitch is, ‘Why would somebody use that?’”

He brought up being pitched a story about a home conferencing technology, that’s essentially a voice-activated tablet, geared toward parents, where dad could alert mom downstairs via an intercom to bring up more diapers.

Brooks chimed in, “There’s more solutions than there are problems a lot of times.”

Although panelists may have a difference in opinion as far as the top reason fans aren't buying tickets – whether it's not being aware of a concert, not being motivated to buy a ticket, or the price holding back a fan – we can all agree that selling more tickets is a problem worth tackling.

Walden Venture Capital’s Larry Marcus said BandPage has done some interesting work with sites like Vevo and YouTube.

He explained, “If you’re actually watching a video of Lorde and a little [pop up] comes up that says buy Lorde merchandise or buy Lorde tickets, you're actually a lot more likely to do that than you would anywhere else because you're actually in that context. So I'm a huge fan of contextual marketing.”

Frank shared how Stick Figure attempted to sell tickets to a show at Los Angeles' The Regent Theater by reaching out to fans who had “thumbed up” the band five times on Pandora or created a station based on the artist.

“We sold, I think, 5 percent of our tickets [via Pandora]," Frank said. “The show ended up selling out, which I don't think any of us expected. The tour did really well, which I don’t think anybody really expected. So there’s one test case. The goal is that we sell 10 percent of our tickets through Pandora. If I could sell 10 percent my tickets it's definitely moving the needle.”

AXS’ Vivian Wang added, “And to that point I think it's the 'we weren’t expecting it' portion that data technology is going to cut down on. We will be expecting it now. We can do an estimate audience size in every market and kind of know what we would expect.”