Pitching to CIOs, Part 1: Lessons From IDG Tech Advisors 2

Recently, we hosted an IDG Ventures CIO Tech Demo Day to bring together founders, CEOs, and CIOs for discussions on technology and emerging trends. Attendees comprised a combination of founders from our portfolio companies, CEOs with whom we’ve had long-term relationships, and other VCs with whom we have co-invested. The founders and CEOs delivered presentations to CIOs from Akamai, Cox Communications, Credit Suisse, Hess, Gartner, IDG, Paypal, Vail Resorts, and Vertex. All that experience, leadership, and vision in the room made for engrossing and spirited conversations that led to some valuable insights.


Several interesting industry trends were brought up often.  While I won’t drill into these in detail, here are the technology trends that attendees frequently highlighted:

  1. Everything cloud. Not a surprise.
  2. User experience matters. A lot.
  3. Globalization. Everyone can now reach customers in many countries.
  4. We need better analytics and data management. Still.
  5. Mobile device management. Remains a huge issue for CIOs.
  6. Current disruptions create many opportunities. CIOs are aware of this and are willing to spend money. So go for it!

What I found most interesting, in debriefing with CIOs, is what they look for in pitch presentations.  Here are the five tips I gathered on what CIOs want to hear:

  1. Passion: Title doesn’t matter. Whether it’s co-founders, CEO/founders, or non-founder CEOs, passion matters.
  2. Skip the really big picture: CIOs are well aware of the technological big picture, e.g., cloud computing is growing. What they want to know: what exactly does your company do and how does it differentiate from the competition?
  3. Show customer examples: What value are your customers getting specifically, and what is the business process? Tell some great customer stories.
  4. Engage them in a conversation: CIOs are used to getting hundreds of sales pitches. They are not interested in ten more. On the other hand, they are very interested in having a dialogue, learning from brilliant founders, giving them feedback, and ultimately viewing these big technology decisions as partnerships.  Follow up with a personalized note, continuing that dialogue in a way that respects their time and provides valuable information to them.
  5. CIOs are interested in emerging technologies: One of the highest-rated presentations was from a company that is not selling directly to CIOs but described fascinating changes in the Internet ecosystem.

Overall, the presenters did fantastically well. Thank you to founders and CEOs from Cloudera, CloudFlare, Collective[i], Krux, Opscode, Ombud, Smartling, and Sumo Logic!

At  IDG Ventures, we offer our entrepreneurs the ability to connect with hundreds of senior IT decision makers and engage in a productive dialogue with them. We do this in partnership with IDG, the world’s largest media company focused on IT.  For this event, we received a lot of support from Michael Friedenberg, CEO of IDG Communications in the US.

In addition to our formal Tech Advisory Board, we work closely with other parts of IDG. For example, IDG Ventures USA is part of IDG’s DEMO CIO Council, which connects enterprise executives to emerging technology companies.

If you want to participate in these conversations, come talk to us.


  1. Pingback: Lessons from CIO Demo Day | IDG Ventures USA

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