Pitch Perfect!

For startups being pitch perfect is a necessity. They require a lot of work and are constantly changing. But, when delivered and delivered well they are one of the most impactful tools in your arsenal of weapons as a startup. It’s your first point of call for potential customers, investors and for effective networking. A perfect pitch can mean securing investment or a new client. But, they can also result in getting that all-important door/window opened.

For startups there are many different types of pitches including

• Elevator pitch
• Accelerator pitch
• Investor pitch

Here’s our top tip on how to get pitch perfect!

Find out the criteria of the pitch

Different pitches have different criteria. These criteria are the basis of your pitch and your likelihood of success. They usually centre around

• Product
• Solution
• Value Proposition
• Market
• Route to Market
• Revenue Model
• Team

Now we appreciate that this is an awful lot to cover and usually has to be done within 3 minutes. This is a difficult task but not an impossible one.

Owen McCabe pitching at startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and worlds number one pre-accelerator.
Owen McCabe pitching at startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and worlds number one pre-accelerator.

Design your script and then slides

People always get caught up on the design and aesthetics of their slides. Yes, it’s important to have a strong slide deck and one that is clear, concise, consistent and ‘cool’. But, it should not be the first thing you design. Design your message first and the slides will follow. Much like the slides the message should be clear, concise and consistent. Most importantly your message should be digestable and easy to understand.

Norma O'Mahony pitching at Startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and the worlds number one pre-accelerator.
Norma O’Mahony pitching at Startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and the worlds number one pre-accelerator.

Timing is everything

Find the easiest way to outline the problem and solution, especially if the problem and solution are complicated. The last thing you want is to not finish your pitch because you’ve run out of time. While it’s important to lay out the problem you’re fixing its just as important to lay out if it’s worth fixing i.e. is there a market for it and will be people pay for it and if so how much. One of the most important things is the team behind the startups. Early stage startups raise money because of a qualified and experienced. The team is the key ingredient to making a startup succeed. Dedicate some time to showing why you should get someone else’s hard earned money.

Practice, practice, practice

This should be a given but we can’t emphasis it enough. You should be so familiar with your pitch that you can recite it no matter what the circumstance, location or technical glitches. I don’t mean just being able to regurgitate a script, but knowing how to begin, how to stand, how you’ll work the stage, what hand movements you’ll use, when will you pause, what’s your tone going to be like, what words will you put emphasis on. It’s a lot of practice, but practice that is definitely worth it when you pull off a perfect pitch.

Be confident

There is nothing worse than being/seeing a nervous person on stage pitching. Its unprofessional and a waste of an opportunity. Like I said a lot of investors are investing in the person and not necessarily the idea. There’s no easy way to get around not being confident but one way is to again practice, practice, and practice. When you’ve practiced enough you have no reason at all to be nervous. Practice in front of the mirror, in front of another person or even record yourself. You’ll see your progress your confidence will shoot through the roof!

Owen McCabe pitching at the Bravebiz conference in Dublin.
Owen McCabe pitching at the Bravebiz conference in Dublin.

Take criticism, use it constructively and don’t take it personally.

The only way you’ll improve is by taking criticism from those who have been there and done that and have developed expertise in these areas. While it’s not easy to take criticism when on a stage and after putting yourself out there it’s a necessary evil to progress. Those who are giving you feedback only want to see you progress and get better and succeed so don’t take it personally. Use the advice and put it into action and go back better than before.

Q&A

Remember that at the end of most pitches there is time allocated for Q&A. Prepare for these as it gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself even more. It’s also fair game to have some slides prepared in an appendices for Q&A if you envisage certain questions will come up.

Enjoy it!

Last of all and while it may seem hard to do. Enjoy it. Pitching is fun; it’s a chance to showcase all your hard work. Startups are hard and this is one of the many rewards that are involved with it. Take ownership, pride and showcase yourself and your work. Do it well and you never know where it may lead!

Owen McCabe and Norma O'Mahony at Startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and worlds number one pre-accelerator
Owen McCabe and Norma O’Mahony at Startupnext Ireland, a techstars programme and worlds number one pre-accelerator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *