By Vineet Chauhan, Espark-Viridian, India
Let’s not get carried away with the title; nothing is perfect. However, after reading this article you would be able to elevate your pitch game a notch. There is no fixed rule to pitching. Nevertheless, there are certain basic rules, which if followed assiduously, will result in a strong and convincing pitch. This post may not contain fancy jargon since a budding entrepreneur needs to have his basics strong. Therefore, we will keep it at layman-level.
What are the ingredients of a captivating, exceptional and an unforgettable pitch?
I am mentioning some of the ingredients that hold high significance in a pitch. You may mold your pitch any way you wish, however, keep in mind the following points while doing so.
- Start with the most basic constituent: Be passionate
Pitching, in all fairness, is an uncomplicated thing. If the facts are put right with passion and conviction, you have the proverbial toe in the door. You don’t have to fake passion, say it like you mean it. That’s all!
2. Be succinct
If you have an exceptional idea, but you take forever to explain it to the audience, then nothing could spare your idea from plummeting to the ground. Focus on the most important points and this will ascertain that you get these important points across before running out of time.
You need not try to explain everything about your business that you think is interesting and important. Just tell the audience enough to make them feel tantalized and ask for more. A pitch could be as long as 10 minutes or as short as a minute. Hence, you will have to cull the parts which are not important.
3. Use a hook, a creative story or a question
Nothing catches the listener’s attention like a catchy story or a question. Share anecdotes. Use analogies. Why did you begin your project in the first place? Throw a question at the audience. Weave all of it into a story.
You have to sell a vision. That’s all you need to give them, a vision of a fruitful business. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, the investors are investing in a dream: your dream. They are bored of all the data and the numbers and the analysis. A story is a sure-shot, scientifically proven way to capture the audiences’ attention. Why not use it to your advantage?
4. Be direct
The opening lines of your pitch are not a good place to beat around the bush, so be direct. Don’t waste time introducing yourself and over-explaining your background, at least in the beginning. The beginning of the pitch is when the audience is most interested. Don’t leave them guessing what it is that you’re selling – start with the big picture and then zero in on the details. Show your prospective investor what exactly your business model is and how you are planning to acquire the customers and increase traction which in turn will drive the revenue.
5. Know the problem that you are trying to solve: Generating value
Rather than impressing the investors with big numbers or analysis, place your focus on the problem and how it can be solved in a clean and efficient way. When the investor asks what you do, they want to know what value you are creating for your customers.
5. Keep your number game strong
Now the problem/solution scenario is out of the way. It’s time to show them the money. At the end of the day, Investors want a good return on the investment they have made. Don’t just tell the investors who you are, what you do, and where you’re headed. Show them how you’ve planned to do this. Don’t just talk about traction and revenue; show them how to generate both. This can only happen if you have a robust financial model that can stand a trial by fire in the market.
A few details you might want to highlight in your pitch:
- Market Size and Value
- Current traction and User Base
- Revenue Projection
- Funding and Budget Allocation
6. Use a presentation deck moderately:
The rule of the thumb is: if it’s not required, don’t use it. Instead, use pointers to remind you of the things, should you fail to recall something. If you must use a presentation deck, then make sure to use pictures and keep the text minimal. Remember, the investor is there to hear you pitch, not to look at the presentation which could be sent via an email.
Investors love hearing pitches, this tells them about the people that they are investing in. You heard that right, the investors are not investing in your business, they are investing on you. You would be driving the business. The success or the failure of it will totally depend on how you run it. A business idea is just an idea if someone is unwilling to work on it. Your pitch is the tool to convince the investors that you are the right guy.
7. Talk about your exit strategy
Most of the startup entrepreneurs don’t even think about the exit strategy. Let me tell you, nothing shouts “serious” to the investors, more than an exit plan. Are you going to sell the company in a merger and acquisition or go public through an IPO?
You have to keep in mind that money invested in you is an illiquid investment to them. Hence, they are expecting a big payoff, not a marginal return. An exit strategy is an assurance to them. If you think your business will earn high revenues and pay the investor the return they are expecting, then you may not have an exit strategy. However, that is a rare case.
8. The more you practice, the better you get!
They didn’t say it for no reason: practice makes perfect. Keep practicing your pitch: in your mind, in front of a mirror or another fellow human. This will only help you get better for D-Day or as you call it, Pitch day. You should be ready to answer any question that may be thrown at you. If you come out unscathed from the barrage of arrows(questions) shot at you, then it means you have practiced well.