So far in my 3 part series I’ve gone over the 5 things you need to know before you start pitching and we’ve taken an in-depth look at what slides investors expect to see in your pitch deck. For my final blog in this series I’ll be highlighting some dos and don’ts of pitching.
Having seen 1000s of pitches during my time as CEO of StartCon, Australia’s largest startup and growth conference and Asia Pacific’s largest startup pitch competition, I’ve seen many mistakes that pitchers repeatedly make. Fortunately, I’ve picked up some great tips during my time in the ecosystem to help you on your way to Pitch for $1 Million.
So let’s start with the don’ts
Don’t end with a Q&A slide
Generally there is allotted time after your pitch for questions. Say for example 5 minutes. If that’s the case then your final slide will be on screen throughout your Q & A. Instead of a slide that is completely blank with only “Q & A” written in the middle, try and show them something more impactful that might appeal to potential investors, business partners, or customers. Perhaps reiterate your company’s ‘why’ or some data that demonstrates the potential strength of your business.
Don’t go super deep into technical details
Going back to my point in my first blog, 5 things you need to know before you start pitching, remember who your audience is. If you’re pitching to investors, remember that they will not know your market or your product as well as you do, so do not use jargon or terms they won’t understand. By using too many technical terms you can alienate your audience and they might lose interest.
Don’t use phrases like ‘we are the Airbnb/ Uber of’
This is the ultimate cliche. Anyone who has been to a pitching competition will have heard this a million times.
While it’s referencing what has now become a well-known business model, defining your startup as the ‘AirBnB for…’ usually leaves investors unimpressed. Try to define your new business as simple and as original as possible and it will win you more points.
Don’t say your target audience is more than one market
You may feel your product has the potential scope to cover a number of different markets, however when first launching a product you need to provide a much more clearly defined market segment. This demonstrates that you are focused and know how to get to revenue quickly and efficiently, rather than being too broad and generalist.
Keep the information you’ve learned about potential further markets on the back burner though, if you are successful in your first market, then you can start to expand into new ones.
Don’t take up your entire meeting time with your pitch
Some pitches take place in settings outside of a pitching competition, for example in a meeting with a potential investor or business partner. In these one-to-one settings you might have a longer time period allotted. Ensure you leave space for questions at the end and do not overrun- especially if you’re meeting an investor. Time is money!
And here are some things you SHOULD do.
Do instill FOMO
FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is a way of showing whoever you’re pitching to the why of your product – and making them feel like now is the time to be involved.
If you are able to make a case as to why your business has the potential to grow exponentially you will instill Fear of Missing Out on the next big thing!
Do ask for money
Don’t be afraid to discuss the realistic monetary needs of your startup. Asking for too little might demonstrate a lack of thinking, experience, or knowledge of business. At the same time don’t jump into asking for a large amount unless you really need it.
Asking for too little also has the risk of you running out of money quickly and having to search for funding again quickly. Try to plan ahead and project how your costs will look before you decide on a number.
Do provide a timeline
This is a great visual tool to show potential investors how you see your business growing and when will begin to see return on investment. You might include things that have already happened such as when you founded the company, created your MVP, gained copyright for your product, or got your first customers. Using knowledge you already have, you can project forward up to 5 years in advance.
No one can predict the future but it certainly helps to demonstrate you have a clear plan for your business!
Do get a professional designer to do your slides
You might already have a designer as part of your team, but if you don’t, having professional looking slides can be a great way to demonstrate you are serious about your startup. You can easily post a project on Freelancer.com or find someone via your personal network to get this done without breaking the budget. Make sure that the slides still fit with your company brand, if your company is yellow and black then don’t accept slides that are pink and green!
This system has been used by the best
These pointers have been used by some of the best, including StartCon pitch finalists from the previous 5 years. Last year’s winners, Checkbox.ai, presented by Evon Wong, have been using these tips to perfect their pitch from the beginning. Checkbox has now gone on to secure $1.75M in Series A funding, no doubt down to their excellent product, but also their clear ability to demonstrate why their product is essential to the market.
I can’t wait to see your pitches at the Pitch for $1 Million Regional Final events across Asia Pacific! If you haven’t registered yet, make sure to secure your spot for your closest Regional Final before tickets sell out.