Start-ups

3 steps to nailing the perfect pitch from an investor who backed Uber and DiDi

Ben Harburg, Managing Partner of MSA Capital, speaks on Day 3 of CNBC East Tech West on November 29, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China. 
Dave Zhong | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Ben Harburg, Managing Partner of MSA Capital, speaks on Day 3 of CNBC East Tech West on November 29, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China. 

Delivering a great pitch is tough. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if you fail to convey that, chances are your dream will be over before it's begun.

One man who knows that better than most is Ben Harburg. As managing partner at major Chinese venture capital firm MSA Capital, he's heard his fair share of pitches.

Some — like ride-sharing platforms Uber, Didi Chuxing and Mobike — have got it right, and his firm has poured investments of over $1 billlion in the past three years into those companies. However, others have missed the mark.

So what exactly makes the perfect pitch?

"A lot of factors go into that pitch," Harburg said at CNBC's East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China. But, he said, there are three ways the best pitchers can set themselves apart.

Be unique

First and foremost, be original and show that you have something better to offer than all the other entrepreneurs out there.

"You've got to have something very unique about your model," said Harburg.

That could either mean proving your business is in a unique space that other people aren't tackling, or showing that there's something very extraordinary about you as an individual.

Show expertise

Next, demonstrate that you have specific expertise no one else has. Harburg said that requires doing your research to show how you have learned from others and moved your idea forward.

"You (must) have unique domain expertise in a very difficult sector that other people are afraid of going into, or have stumbled in because it's so complicated," said Harburg.

That matches advice from pitching pro Kevin O'Leary, who has spent a decade hearing pitches as an investors on ABC's "Shark Tank."

"You have to explain why you're the right person to execute the business plan," O'Leary told CNBC Make It last month.

Prove scalability

Finally, said Harburg, show that your idea can compete on a global scale.

"We like to see the ability to very quickly scale a business," he said, referring to both viral and financial growth.

"We're certainly out of the era where we pay for eyeballs, pay for users," said Harburg. "You've got to show a very clear path to monetization and a very clear path to becoming profitable."

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