Song Ma, 24 September 2021

If you want your startup to be funded, everybody knows you have to dial up the energy and enthusiasm when you meet investors to the maximum. But is this really good advice for startups, and is a passionate pitch really a reliable signal for an investor? Song Ma of Yale School of Management used machine learning to evaluate thousands of pitches. He tells Tim Phillips whether passionate entrepreneurs make better startups

Allen Hu, Song Ma, 21 August 2021

Persuasive communication relies not only on content but also on its delivery. This column uses machine learning algorithms to examine the persuasiveness of delivery in startup pitches to venture capitalists. Positive (i.e. passionate, warm) pitches increase the probability of funding, but on receiving funding, high-positivity startups tend to underperform. Women are more heavily judged on delivery when evaluating single-gender teams, but they are neglected when pitching alongside men. The results of an experiment suggest that persuasion delivery works mainly through leading investors to form inaccurate beliefs.

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