The Aristotelian Investor Pitch

The link in the tweet above (from George Zachary) is a famous quote on the art of persuasion by Aristotle. Since Zachary hears lots of pitches for new businesses, his plea underscores the need on the part of early-stage investors to be “persuaded.” Briefly, this passage notes that in order to persuade, one must be able demonstrate something, which is done through “ethos” (the presenter’s character, which lends him or her credibility), with “pathos” (by stirring up emotion or excitement), and grounded in “logos” (when the presenter can tie all of these together to persuade). For an entrepreneur in the early-stages, it would certainly be wise to reflect on these thoughts from Aristotle’s work, Rhetoric. In these particular situations, so much of persuasion is how we use language effectively.

After this tweet, a mutual friend (and part-time philosopher himself) Adam Rifkin added: “mythos.” From his work in Poetics, Aristotle wrote about “mythos” as the most essential ingredient for drama and more important than “ethos.” With “mythos,” an individual can drive elements of a story from beginning, to middle, to end. Today, in an investor setting, this would be narrative, the subtle art of telling a story about the potential of a new idea within historical and current contexts. Of all the ingredients, it may be myth that stirs up the most emotion in our audiences, and in the early stages of business, even at the concept level, where it is all about the people, I’d wager that most teams which end up receiving funding nail all four elements Aristotle mapped out years ago.