Top investors from a cannabis-focused fund and early Juul investor share their 3 best tips for making a successful pitch

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Emily Paxhia

Brother-and-sister-duo Morgan and Emily Paxhia know what turns a pitch into funding for a startup.

As the managing partners of Poseidon Asset Management, a cannabis-focused investment firm, the pair have seen — and sat through — tons of pitches of varying quality. The two shared their best pieces of advice for startup founders looking to make a successful pitch in a recent webinar moderated by Business Insider.

During the webinar, Cy Scott, the CEO of cannabis analytics startup Headset, walked through his Series A funding round pitch. The Paxhia’s chimed in on where they thought Scott’s pitch stood out. 

They would know: Poseidon led the $12 million funding round, which closed earlier this year.

Here are their three best tips for making a successful pitch: 

Tip #1: Anticipate questions beforehand 

One of Emily Paxhia’s first and most important pieces of advice was to pre-empt potential investor questions by doing your homework.

“Anticipate the areas where investors might really poke at in the presentation,” said Paxhia. She advises going through the presentation beforehand with investors and mentors to address potential questions investors could ask in the pitch meeting. 

“Answer those potential questions before the investor even gets fired up,” Emily Paxhia said. “It’s a great way to show that you’re thinking about the challenges as a founder.” 

Tip #2: Think like an investor 

Oftentimes startup founders don’t think like investors. If the founder is able to pre-empt questions — specifically around what would make an investment not work, that’s a good sign, the Paxhias said during the webinar.

“You have to think about what could make the investment not work and answer those questions right away in your presentation,” Morgan Paxhia said. 

Read more: ‘It’s a once in a decade opportunity’: How top VC firms like Greycroft and Lerer Hippeau are cautiously opening their doors to the potentially $194 billion cannabis industry

In order to make a strong pitch, the Poseidon founders said that a company needs to reflect on their own business, as well as the state of the market and the state of the competitive landscape.

“Those are the big ideas I see missing in a lot of decks,” Emily Paxhia said. 

Tip #3: Understand the competitive landscape 

While Scott said companies don’t want to address their competition because it can appear to downplay their own strength, knowing the competitive landscape in the industry actually works to a startup’s advantage.

“Lots of people say, ‘I don’t have a competitor,’” Emily Paxhia said. “To me that just shows you haven’t taken the time to do the market research on the very space you’re entering into to serve.”

“Because guess what, I’ve probably been pitched by your competitor.” 

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