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Q&A: Jason Della Rocca Shares the Art of Pitching in His Two Masterclasses

You’ve built an amazing game studio with an amazing team: How do you get publishers or investors to sign up? Funding advisor Jason Della Rocca shares details about his upcoming GDC Masterclass courses for London Tech Week.

Jason talked with GDC about getting to return in-person for Funding Your Studio: Pitching to VCs and Fundraising Strategy, which is happening Wednesday, June 15 from 10:00am to 6:00pm BST. This course is intended for entrepreneurs who have the drive to build a successful and scalable game studio, and are actively (or will soon be) pitching to VCs. Attendees focus on fundraising strategies and pitching your game studio to venture capitalists (VCs) and other equity investors. Participants are also given a company pitch template and, as part of the class, will deliver their company pitch and receive direct feedback and advice for improving their pitch.

For those ready to pitch to premium publishers, Jason is also teaching a virtual course, Advanced Publisher Pitching: Strategy and Pitch Optimization for Scoring Deals, on Thursday and Friday, June 16-17, from 9:00am to 1:00pm BST (4:00am to 8:00am ET). This course will focus on pitching and scoring publishing deals for premium PC and console games. From creating your target list of viable publishing partners, to researching your key competition, and how best to manage the introduction and follow-up process, we’ll cover everything you need to know. Additionally, as part of the class, each attendee will have the opportunity to pitch their current game and receive direct feedback and advice for improving their pitch. 

Jason shared his thoughts on the benefits of in-person and virtual courses and what it means to be "venture investible," along with some tips on overcoming nerves while pitching in front of others. Below is an edited, condensed version of our interview.

GDC: How do you feel about returning to in-person for this upcoming Masterclass, and what do you feel in-person and virtual instruction styles each offer attendees?

Jason Della Rocca: So eager to visit London again! I've slowly started to travel and attend events this year. It was especially valuable to attend GDC live in San Francisco back in March. It was my 26th GDC and it was so nice to see industry friends and contacts again. While we all got pretty good at "zooming" over the past couple of years, you simply cannot replace the value of in-person exchanges, and those special serendipitous "bump into someone" moments that don't happen in a virtual context.

As for running sessions, there's something more tangible and direct when we are all locked into the same room, focused on learning and exchanging. Admittedly, the virtual masterclasses have all gone smoothly (in no small part due to the eagerness of the participants to learn critical topics like funding and pitching). That said, I'm excited to return to the conference room and interact face-to-face. It generally affords a more personal/hands-on depth to the discussion.

GDC: What does it mean to be “venture investible,” and what are the tools your Masterclass provides to help studios reach it?

Jason: Venture funding is a very specific category of financing. Venture investors play by different rules than project-based financing options, like publishers or platforms. First and foremost, venture funding is about backing your studio as a whole. You are taking funding in exchange for shares in your company. As such, the investors are focused on the long-term growth of the studio, thus increasing the value of their shares. And, generally, venture investors are looking for massive scalability. They want to back the next home run and help fuel the success of the next "unicorn" (ie, a company worth a billion dollars). So, if you don't have the ambition or ability to pursue that level of scale and growth, then you are not venture investible.

My masterclass will cover a lot of ground around this topic of being investible, along with fundraising strategy and mindset. Raising venture funding is quite a journey and we'll look at how to research possible investors, how to approach them and pitch them successfully. We'll also review a template for a solid pitch deck, and even do some live mock pitches with time to critique.

In short, taking this 1-day masterclass will save you from wasting a year of hustle, heartache and struggles chasing investors without all of the insights.

GDC: Some folks express nervousness about pitching in front of people, including investors. What are the best strategies to help folks overcome that specific obstacle?

Jason: Well, some folks are just more at ease with public speaking than others. That said, pitching is a learned skill. And, the more you learn it and practice it, the less nervous you'll be. There are also breathing techniques, your posture, etc, that help relieve some of the anxiety. But, the most important aspect is having confidence in your studio, team, project, etc. A lot of those nerves come from a sense that what you are doing is actually not that "worthy" of investment and thus you feel nervous to pitch it and to ask for funding for it. So, first step in addressing nerves is to ensure you have confidence in what you are presenting. If you don't, then there are much deeper questions that need answers before you go out and ask for funding.

Be sure to head to GDC Masterclass for more information on Jason's two courses—one is happening in-person at London Tech Week's AI Summit, taking place at Tobacco Dock, while the other is happening virtually.

GDC returns to San Francisco in March 2023, and the call for submissions opens this summer! For more information, be sure to visit our website.

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