How to Pitch to US Investors, for European Startups

how to pitch to US investors

how to pitch to US investors

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You’re at CES in Las Vegas. 

You have invented a robot that builds inexpensive houses using artificial intelligence.
(Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to create! If you actually do invent it, give me some thank-you equity will you? 😉

A potential investor comes to your booth and shows interest.

They ask: ”Can you deliver 20 of these by the end of the year?”

Based on my experience, here’s what I imagine would happen:

European startup founder: ”Umm… that will be complicated because our developers are working on… and it takes time… but yeah, we maybe we might be able to do that if…

American startup founder: Hell, yeah! We can do that!”  

And then they find a way to make that happen, because their answer was probably not 100% true when the investor asked.

For European startups who want to scale in the US, the cultural challenges are massive.

If you overcome the challenges, you unlock a huge market.

How huge?

 In 2023, investors injected $170 billion into startups in the U.S. In Europe, that amount was just $52 billion.

Pitching in Europe is NOT the same as pitching in the U.S.
I’ve coached startups to prepare for CES in Las Vegas, international accelerators, and more.

Here’s what I’ve seen…

Why European Startups Struggle with Pitching in the U.S.

  • Cultural modesty: Europeans often downplay their achievements. This contrasts with the bold confidence expected in the US.
  • Traction vs. vision: Europeans tend to focus on past accomplishments and their background while Americans look for future potential.
  • Lack of confidence: Europeans are more hesitant to advance ideas that aren’t proven. Americans express assertive certainty, even if they are not 100% sure.

But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through overcoming these challenges and crafting a pitch that wins over US investors.

Step 1: Amplify Your Successes

Europeans undersell themselves. Americans oversell themselves.

American investors are used to this, so they’ll automatically discount about 20% of your promises.

If you go in with a modest pitch, you’re already in the negative.

So be bold about your startup’s achievements. Brag a little, even about small achievements.

Norwegian Silicon Valley investor Sean Percival advises, “Don’t be so damned modest! You have to push yourself up.”

Investors want to see passion and energy. Show them why they should believe in your startup as much as you do.

  • Why it’s important: Passion sells. If you’re not absolutely excited about your business, why should an investor be?
  • Quick tip: Highlight your biggest wins and milestones directly and confidently. Avoid hedging your achievements with diminishing words like “try”, “hope”, “a little”, “ok”, etc.

Step 2: Showcase Your Ambition and Vision

Share where your startup is going, not just where it’s been.

In Europe, you’re expected to show where you’ve come from, your background, the steps you took to arrive where you are today. Europeans tend to be more skeptical of things that are not supported by past facts.

Americans, on the other hand, are more interested in where you are going, what potential success looks like, and the most important impact you could make. 

Yes, Americans are also interested in hard facts and numbers, but the vision and the mission are equally important.

  • Why it’s important: Many European startups focus too much on past steps rather than future potential, and this harms their chances.
  • Quick tip: Emphasize your biggest, greatest aspirations and how you intend to achieve them, then back this up with your track record, facts, and supporting numbers.

Step 3: Present with Confidence and Certainty

Project confidence in your pitch. The way you communicate should reflect certainty about your business and its trajectory. 

Again, if you’re not confident, why would an investor trust you with their money?

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman talks about how language impacts the way we think & our level of confidence in general.

In French, for example (which I speak fluently), a lot of “positive” statements are formulated negatively.

To say something was pretty good, the French will often say “It’s not bad”. (”C’est pas mal”)

If there are no problems they say “There’s nothing to report.” (“Rien à signaler”)

The thinking seems to be “The only things worth mentioning are the bad things.”

Friends from other EU countries tell me this is common in Dutch, Italian, Danish, and German cultures too.

Diminishing or not talking about your achievements definitely hurts your pitch!

  • Why it’s important: Confidence can be the deciding factor in winning investment.
  • Quick tip: Confidence, together with a future vision and highlighted past successes creates a compelling narrative for US investors.

That’s all for this week.

Remember, pitching in the US may require stepping out of your comfort zone, and changing your way of thinking about how you talk about yourself and your company.

But with boldness, vision, and confidence, you can capture the attention and imagination of US investors.

I’m curious to know:
How has your experience been with pitching to investors, especially if you’ve pitched American investors? I’d love to hear from you! 

That’s all for this week. 

See you next Thursday,


If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send me an invitation! 

I’d love to connect!

Not sure if your pitch is U.S.-ready? 

Book a free 30-minute diagnostic with me, and we can look at it to see if it’s good to go, or if you need to rethink your pitch. 




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