Take a deep breath. You’re about to stand in front of a group who can make or break your business. You know what I’m talking about…you’re pitching your business to investors. But before you ever walk into that room, you need to perfect your pitch. Too much rides on the success of this one thing to go in unprepared.
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How you start your pitch matters. Duh. Obvious, I know, but sometimes entrepreneurs underestimate the value of a powerful opening. I recommend two options: tell a story and/or ask a question.
Our love for stories goes clear back to the time we lived in caves and drew stick figures on the wall. I bet more than a few of you recognize this opening phrase,“A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away…”
For some of us, stories can become a lifelong obsession. Beyond Stars Wars, think Star Trek, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
People remember stories, and by framing your opportunity around a story throughout the pitch, you make your idea stick.As part of your story, you may want to introduce a question that your pitch will solve.
Have you ever wanted to order and pay for a ride from your phone? (Uber)
Have you ever wanted to live like a local when you travel? (AirBnB)
You get the idea. With your opening move, you want to frame your idea as THE answer to a big question.
Meet the Team, Define the Opportunity & the Value
We like to think we’re not just investing in ideas, we’re investing in people. Take the time to highlight the key members of your team and the role they’ll play in the business. This knowledge will put faces to actions throughout the rest of the pitch and tees you up to to define the problem you’re solving and the opportunity you believe exists.
Now you’re prepared to present your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). What do you have to offer that no one else can or will? What is the unique opportunity you represent? Again, Captain Obvious here, but if you can’t define a clear and concise UVP, your idea still needs work. Think of your UVP as the keystone in your arch. It needs to work. Period.
Show Me the Numbers
By this point in the story, people should be hooked, but this group of hard-nosed investors doesn’t just give money away. They need proof. What market data can you include to back up your solution? Do you know how to explain the difference between causation and correlation with the data and your idea?
Market data also ties into your competitive analysis. Who else is doing something similar? How do you differ? Where do you fit in the competitive landscape? Is there an untapped niche or are you looking to muscle someone else out?
Rubber Meets Road
O.K. Problem identified. Opportunity defined. Unique value assigned. Data confirmed. It’s time to present your minimum viable product (MVP) and the results from your testing. What did you discover? What worked? What didn’t?
Be prepared to pull out your prototype. Does the reality match the groundwork you’ve laid? Hint: this is the worst moment to over promise and then under deliver. Don’t be the entrepreneur who pitches a worldwide revolution and then reveals the equivalent of, “It’s like Uber for…”
What Happens Next
As your pitch comes to a close, lay out your six-month road map. What testing will happen? How will implement the results? Basically, how do you plan to keep building your dream and how will you measure success?
Whew. That was A LOT packed into 10 slides and 20 minutes. Yep, that’s all you get. Somehow, some way, you’ve got to condense the biggest dream of your life into a perfect pitch. And back to being obvious, but the only way you’ll get there is to practice, practice, practices. Oh yeah, and practices some more…in front of people, preferably a few who have experience with pitches.
You’re in the big leagues now. How else could you perfect your pitch?