Nailing the pitch: preparing

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1. Outline

Follow this framework when drafting your pitch:

  1. Inspiration. What’s the story behind the business? Personalize it to draw in your audience.

  2. Problem. What issue are you solving? “40 percent of millennials don’t have time to grocery shop. That’s why we do it for them!” 

  3. Solution. How does your product or service directly solve the problem?

  4. How it works. Use video, slides, or an actual prototype as a demo.

  5. Competition. Mention one or two competitors and explain how you’re different and better. For example: “This tourist app is popular, but it doesn’t have automatic suggestions for shops in your area like mine.”

  6. Key metrics. How many customers do you have? What’s your revenue model? Profit margin? Find these and other key numbers on TechCrunch.

  7. Ask. How much cash do you need? Why does your business deserve that much, and how will you use it effectively?

  8. Return. Investors want to know how much money they’ll make back, and when they’ll get it. How will your revenue model bring in that cash? If it’s a small amount of money over a long term, they won’t be interested. A huge return in five years is more appealing.

  9. Team. Who’s on your team? Why are they great? Show that you pick skilled people who’ll drive your business to success.

  10. Tagline. Wrap it up with a clever tagline. For example: “The app that can save your life” or “Accessible fashion for all.”

2.     Design.

  • Use accessible slide software like Keynote or PowerPoint. Keep your slides to a minimum. 10 or less is ideal.
  • Aesthetic tips: don’t clutter slides, use colours that go well together (i.e., not bright green and red), and avoid yellow lettering or words that blend in. Ask for feedback from family and friends.
  • For more on how to build a great slide deck, click this link.
  • Make different versions of the pitch: 10 seconds, one minute, five minutes. It will help you decide which information is most important. Leave out anything irrelevant or too detailed.
  • Try the “Escalator Pitch.” Imagine going up an escalator while someone else is going down opposite you. You only have a few seconds to describe your business to them. You’d yell out a short tagline like “Netflix for the blind!” or “Amazon but for groceries!”

4.      Practice.

  • Run through it at least 15 times.
  • If you’re nervous, practice alone first. Then try it in front of family and friends.
  • Record yourself to see how you sound. Project your voice, don’t yell. Be steady but not slow.
  • Plan your answers. Investors might ask hard questions. For example, “Why you need the amount you’re requesting?” If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say how and when you will find out.

For a great pitch example, watch this video. Watch lots of pitches to see what works best.

For tips on presenting your pitch, check out part two of this post.