As a startup, pitching your business becomes a regularity you can’t avoid. Investors want to know what makes you special, they want to know how you plan on cracking the market and how you’re going to make them money. Of course, you’ll have all of this information readily available as part of an extensive proposal document but here’s where you face your first hurdle; investors don’t have time.
There’s a reason why elevator pitches exist, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just to make the experience more difficult. Investors need to be confident that your business will attract customers. If an investor doesn’t grasp your idea, or you can’t excite them within the first couple of minutes of your pitch then surely, neither will your customers. Without a customer base your business is just a hobby.
It’s really important you don’t underestimate the power of the pitch, because a well thought out polished pitch could be the difference between building game changing relationships, or not.
An elevator pitch is vital. Verbose presentations and lengthy explanations will not impress investors, and most likely will turn them off. Present your business in a manner that’s short, sweet and to the point. Investors need to be confident that your business will attract and retain customers. If they don’t grasp your concept in a short time span, they may presume that customers won’t understand it either.
A lot of people have written about what makes the ‘perfect pitch’, so it’s difficult to filter the good advice from the bad. Over the years, we’ve listened to thousands of pitches, some good, some not so good. We’ve spent a lot of time supporting the startups on our programmes with pitch practicing and speaking with our corporate partners about what they think makes a good pitch, and what they actually want to hear from you guys.
So, here are a few pitching tips, we hope you find useful;
- Create a story – finding the problem
Sounds cheesy, I know, but it is absolutely essential you follow a narrative throughout your pitch. This doesn’t mean you need to be the world’s best storyteller, it also doesn’t mean you need to present in some illustrious Shakespearean manner, in fact short, sweet and to the point is always preferable. You need to set the scene, illustrate your passion, explain and give them a reason to be excited. Think of your USP, and build your story around it.
- Showcasing the solution
A viable product needs to address a need in the market. If you have no proof of concept, if you’re lacking market research, then investors will immediately disregard you. This is where you illustrate your unique insight, derived from a deep analysis of current products in your space, and conversations with customers. Your goal here is to leave the investor thinking ‘ah, I’d use that’. You can’t rely on passion and determination here, at this stage you’ll need thorough research to impress.
- Illustrating your expertise
Once you’ve hooked them with your idea, and made it obvious your product has a customer base ready and waiting, it’s time to tell your investor how it’s going to happen. Start by introducing your team. Investors are always keen to know who’s behind the business; what expertise they have to rely on. Each person in your team should bring something unique to the table. Then it’s on to progress, business modelling and financials. Progress is key, because investors want to know that you’ve been personally critical and given yourself a business MOT before approaching them. Remember that all investors understand that financials will fluctuate, so don’t be too set in your ways. As for your business model, you need to completely own this and not flitter between several different models. This illustrates uncertainty.
- What do you want?
There’s a reason you’re here, so there’s no need to beat around the bush. Be very clear about what you want, why you want it, and what you’re going to do with it.
You’ve set the story, you’ve engaged them, they should be feeling excited, now it’s time to close the deal.