Essential English for start-ups: pitching your business to investors

After months or years of hard work developing a product or a service, you may now need to inject cash into the business through investors. Often, as part of this process you’ll need to present your idea. This type of presentation, where you are presenting your business ideas with the aim of securing sales or investment, is called a business pitch. This blog post looks at expressions and vocabulary that are commonly used in business pitches.

Essential expressions to use during the pitch

The first few seconds of the pitch are the most important for making a good impression. Capture your audience’s interest by telling them succinctly what you are going to tell them during the presentation. Here are some suggestions for the opening of your pitch:

Today, I am going to…

  • take a look at the recent boom in online sales.
  • tell you why our product is in high demand.
  • show you financials to back this up. 
  • summarise the main reason why we have a competitive edge.

I’ll begin by...

  • giving you an overview of current trends.
  • outlining our policy on bad debt.
  • commenting on our current sales figures.

And then I’ll move on to…

  • highlight why customers buy our products.
  • focus on the reasons we stand out in the marketplace.
  • put all of this into perspective in relation to current market trends.

Essential acronyms and vocabulary for start-ups

Here are the most common acronyms and vocabulary that are common to all industries and that are sure to be mentioned by a potential investor.  

  • USP = Unique Selling Point of a company, product, or service. What makes it different? Investors want to know why customers should chose you and what makes your product or service different to what is already available.
  • NDA = Non-Disclosure Agreement. This is a legal document which protects your company from having  sensitive information used or shared in ways you are not happy with.
  • ROI = Return On Investment. This is the amount of money you get back on an initial amount that you invested.
  • Buy-in (noun). This is agreeing with or accepting something that someone suggests.
  • Leverage (noun). This is the power to influence people and get results.
  • Scalable (adjective). This describes a business or system that is able to grow or to be made larger.
  • Angel investor (noun). This is a person who invests money in new companies.
  • Edge (noun). This is used to describe when you have an advantage over other people or companies.

Examples of how these can be used in context:

Effective start-ups must understand how to communicate their vision and create buy-in for it.

A good slide deck gives start-ups more leverage when it comes getting business angels to invest.

If start-ups want to get companies or individuals to invest, they have to demonstrate that their idea is scalable.

Most start-ups need an angel investor.

An investor wants to know what your competitive edge is.

Essential phrasal verbs

The English commonly used by start-ups might appear a bit less formal than you are used to or that you are expecting. Here are examples of phrasal verbs you can use:

  • Sort out
  • Stick to
  • Set up
  • Move into
  • Come up with
  • Narrow down
  • Carry out
  • Look into

We had some issues with the application not being user-friendly enough, but we have now managed to sort this out.

We thought about changing the features of the product but decided to stick to our initial plan.

Our plan was to set up a task team to deal with feedback.

Our product is currently only available in Europe. We plan to move into the Asian market next.

We have come up with several strategies to deal with payment issues.

We had several options to deal with technical issues.  We have now narrowed them down to the five most important ones.

We have carried out extensive research into current trends

We have looked into why users prefer more images with text.

Essential preparation

  • Here are a few key points to consider in preparation for your pitch.
  • Create an engaging slide deck
  • Use the key words that are commonly used in the sector
  • Practise your pronunciation, intonation, word stress, pacing and pausing
  • Check spelling and grammar

Good luck!

This blog has been written at level C1. Practise your reading and listening by reading the blogs below.


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