Business Pitching in the Digital Age-A Cautionary Tale

A short time ago, we were approached by a colleague who wanted to know if we would be interested in helping a company she was potentially working with raise needed capital.  That is not interesting because we get these requests frequently.  What caught my attention was the fact that this was a pitch that was web based. This would be my first foray into a business pitch in the digital world.

This was exciting.  I opened up the web page to find the premise of what the service was and product the company had created.  No data, no efficacy trials, nothing else.  Okay maybe this is like a coming attractions web page where there is a teaser in place until the real website is created.

At the bottom of the page was a video link.  This was intriguing because it was a trailer for what promised to be a television series on You Tube about these two entrepreneurs getting their business off the ground.  That’s a pun actually since this business was drone delivery of legal marijuana combined with an app that somehow was going to jump all the alarming hurdles like safety that were already making my head hurt.

I clicked on the video.  This was cool.  There were fast cars, and Southern California beaches and great music and board rooms and laptops being smashed.  Wait…there was also pot being smoked.  Okay I get it.  They are in a fast-growing business.  That, by the way, was the only statistic I saw or could access.  A billion-dollar industry or so they claimed.  However, I wasn’t sure how the two founders smoking pot was somehow related to their actually delivering pot via drone.  I never saw a drone.  I also wasn’t sure how to explain this to a potential investor.  Well, they only smoke pot before they smash laptops or they only smoke to explain what pot is and why it needs to be delivered by drone and they aren’t high all the time while they are running their supposed billion-dollar business.

There were testimonials by software engineers, I think, who said how creative these two were and dedicated.  There was angst, lots of angst about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and realize a dream.  That is really an old theme but it was certainly set to great video and music.  Then there were credits.  Okay I guess this was supposed to be a trailer for a reality series on two inventors that have a great idea and how hard it is and how much sacrifice and on and on and on.

Maybe it was me.  I couldn’t find any business case at all, anywhere.  I looked at the basic web page again.  I played the video again.  How much money were they trying to raise?  Where is the patent on the software app with facial recognition?  Where is the lawyer who vetted all of this and said it is perfectly legal?  There was a pitch at the end of the video to support a measure to make marijuana legal in the State of California.  So, were they in California and smoking pot illegally while making this video?  Maybe it wasn’t pot after all. I was dizzy.

I wondered if they had spent as much time and money on actually building a business as they did on their Reality Series Trailer that purported to be about their trying to build a business, perhaps they would actually have investors and a business.

We passed on this potential opportunity.  While I think it is important to move into the digital age and use social media tools to your best advantage use caution in just how you use media, in any form.  The premise still remains that in order to get someone interested in assisting you, give them a real business pitch to peak their interest.

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