Recently I had a chance to sit in a startup pitch event where the theme was scientists (mostly university professors) pitching about their startups built around their research. Without generalizing too much, here are my quick observations / wishes from some of those founders:
Better storytelling: People forget about technology, but they remember stories. Scientist founders tend to focus a lot on their unique technology (which is understandable given they spent so many years of their life on this single technology), but for a startup pitch, it becomes a lot more impactful and memorable if the pitch is led off by a story that normal people can easily understand and relate to.
Better communication: If the presentation deck has something like 100 words per screen, full of technical jargons – it’s not a presenation anymore, it’s a dissertation paper.
Better team composition: Many companies didn’t have any business people with startup experience on the team. In many cases, the founder seem to play the role of both CEO and CSO (chief science officer) which I doubt would scale. That is, if they’re not also teaching in the next semester! Many companies had something like 10 advisers, who all seem to be fellow scientists.
Better humbleness and ego-checking: Some founders couldn’t seem to take harsh questions from VCs; they seem to think those harsh questions were almost like a personal attack on the technology they devoted their life to. VCs’ whole job is to ask tough questions to poke holes. Check your ego and learn from harsh questions. Think about all possible questions beforehand to take those more gracefully.