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I've witnessed hundreds of CEOs pitch their startups — …

ariel kramer

Ariel Kramer (left) has seen hundreds of CEOs and entrepreneurs pitch their startups at tech conferences.

Ariel Kramer/Business Insider

I’ve worked in the tech world for 10 years, most recently as chief communications officer of Cellink, a publicly-traded biotech company.

In that time, I’ve attended and moderated tons of tech conferences — the kind where CEOs share their thoughts in panel discussions, or budding entrepreneurs give presentations and pitches about their companies in “Shark Tank”-like competitions.

After witnessing enough of these presentations, most of them tend to blur together. The only people that ever really stick out to me are the CEOs who have that “wow” factor or the ones who give extremely poor presentations — rarely do I remember anything in between.

The sad reality is that most of these startups are going to fail — according to a Harvard Business School study, first-time entrepreneurs have a success rate of just 18%. Even founders who have a successful startup under their belts succeed just 30% of the time, the study found.

But every now and then, I’ll witness a presentation that will leave me convinced the startup is going to beat the odds. Usually, it’s because the entrepreneurs giving the pitch will do a few key things that anyone looking to make it in business should keep in mind.

Read on for five key indicators that tell me if a startup CEO is going to be a success.


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