5 Common Startup Pitching Mistakes, According to PepsiCo Labs’s Anna Farberov


If you’re a startup founder, you know that pitching your business to investors is key to getting the funding you need to grow. But what do you do if your pitch deck isn’t up to snuff? According to Anna Farberov of PepsiCo Labs, there are five common mistakes that many startups make when pitching their businesses. In this article, we’ll take a look at what those mistakes are and how you can avoid them.

Background on the activity of Anna Farberov

Anna Farberov is the General Manager of PepsiCo Labs, and she’s on the lookout for startups to work with. Specifically, she’s looking for startups that can help PepsiCo with its upcoming Warehouse Automation program. As far as we can tell from her LinkedIn post, she received at least 385 pitch decks from startups, but likely even more.

As she went through all of these presentations she identified five mistakes that founders make, which seem to occur very often. She shared these findings, hoping that it might help some people out there to prepare more efficient and equally effective presentations about their startups.

5 mistakes to avoid when building a startup pitch deck or presentation

So, what are the five mistakes that Farberov spotted in all those startup pitch decks and presentations? Let’s take a look.

1. No personalization

When pitching to investors, corporate innovation teams, and experts, most startups use a generic deck that does not take into account the expert’s needs. Commonly, market size and revenue potential are deemed unimportant by these individuals. What they really want to know is how you can help alleviate their pain points.

Save time by cutting out any unnecessary information. When pitching to investors, it’s important to personalize your presentation and make sure that you are addressing their specific needs. This means cutting out any unnecessary information and focusing on how your startup can help alleviate the audience’s pain points.

2. Lack of clarity

Farberov was asked to review a startup. After reading their deck and website, she gathered that they were only focused on Last Mile delivery, but had no idea what issue the startup aimed to solve or how they would go about solving it.

One way to add more clarity to your presentation is to define the problem that you are trying to solve and explain how you plan to solve it. This will help the audience to understand your business better and see how it can be of use to them. Additionally, it’s important to be clear and concise in your explanations, and avoid using too much jargon or technical terms. If necessary, provide a glossary or definitions sheet for any terms that might be unfamiliar to the audience.

3. React defensively to questions

Whenever investors attempt to understand a startup’s business model by asking questions about different scenarios, some startups get snippy in their responses or try to defend their tech and vision.

Investors are not trying to attack your business, they just want to better understand how it works. When they ask questions, try to answer them as calmly and clearly as possible. It’s also important that you be open to feedback and willing to pivot if necessary. Remember, the goal is to get funding for your business, so you need to be able to show that you are flexible and willing to change.

4. Underestimating corporate complexity

Startups sometimes oversell their ability to grow and keep up with a big company in order to succeed and sell their products. However, this can backfire if they’re unable to scale quickly enough– which takes away crucial resources that could otherwise be used for other things. Losing credibility is hard to come back from, especially when you’ve already raised attention for your business.

Startups often make the mistake of thinking that because their business is new and innovative, large enterprises will be interested in partnering with them. However, in order to work with a large enterprise, a startup must first learn to understand the complexity of these businesses.

Large enterprises are not interested in working with startups that cannot keep up with their pace or do not understand the complexities of doing business at a corporate level. Startups must be able to demonstrate that they are capable of scaling quickly and meeting the needs of a large enterprise. Additionally, it is important for startups to be aware of the potential risks involved in partnering with a large company.

5. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer

On one hand, Farberov admires their tenacity; on the other hand, these firms reach out to different executives after the experts already said ‘no’, which causes the executives to contact the same specialists again. This just leads to inefficiency, waste of time, and disappointment.

When you’re pitching your startup to investors or VCs (venture capitalists), it’s important to be prepared for questions and feedback – both positive and negative. However, if you find yourself receiving a negative response, it can be difficult to know how to react. Here are a few tips on how to better deal with rejection.

When someone doesn’t seem interested in your business or rejects your pitch, don’t take it personally. Remember that they are not obligated to invest in your company, and their opinion is not the end-all-be-all. Stay calm and professional, and be willing to listen to any feedback they might have.

If you feel like the person is not taking your business seriously, try reiterating what your startup does and how it can help them. It’s also important to ask for feedback about why they didn’t like your pitch, so you can improve for next time. Finally, always thank the person for their time, even if they didn’t invest in your company or didn’t want to become a client.


Pitching a startup is not an easy task, but it is important to remember that there are ways to increase your chances of success. By avoiding common mistakes and being prepared for anything, you can make sure that your pitch leaves a lasting impression on potential investors, clients, and partners.

If you’d like to hear more from Anna Farberov you can also watch the conversation below, hosted by the ‘Progress, Potential, and Possibilities’ channel on YouTube.

YouTube: Anna Farberov – GM – PepsiCo Labs – Efficient Technology Innovation In The Global CPG Segment (Progress, Potential, and Possibilities)

Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Gorodenkoff.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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