The following post was written by John Chason, managing director of Metrix Ventures and co-organizer of Startup Weekend Tallahassee.
So you’ve worked on your business idea at Startup Weekend Tallahassee for 54 hours straight, powered on nothing more than copious amounts of Red Bull and a dream. Now it’s all come down to 5 minutes of “face time” in front of your friends, peers, and more importantly…potential investors. It’s the time to tell the world about your idea and turn that dream into a reality. We are talking about, “The Pitch”.
At this point nerves set in, your legs are shaking, and your heart is pounding like the double bass drums in a heavy metal song. But DO NOT WORRY because you are prepared!…Well, you will be after you read this blog.
A successful pitch is based on three simple steps: first, you must write down your ideas and fill out a template, listed below. Second, based on your knowledge of the business, you should be able to specifically answer questions directed towards each of the categories in the template. Finally, practice, practice, and practice some more on delivering your pitch. All steps are equally important in the process so don’t skip any. Pitches that fail did not answer the right questions in the mind of the investor.
The template for the pitch consists of seven items that you must absolutely know before you try to separate an investor from their wallet. The seven items are as follows:
1 — Your Business. State the name of your business, describe the products or services that you offer, and include the vision of your idea. What do you do? Make it quick, to the point, and don’t use jargon or “big words” to describe your business. Make it simple enough so that a kid or your grandma would understand it.
2 — The Problem. Describe the problem, or pain, experienced by your target market that your product or service will solve. What is the problem in the market, industry, etc? Your goal here is to get the audience nodding their heads in agreement that a problem does in fact exist.
3 — Your Solution. Describe the solution that your product or service provides given the problem previously stated. How will you solve these problems? If you have screen shots, or better yet, a working product you should show it during your pitch. Investors prefer “seeing” much more than “hearing”.
4 — The Competition. State your competition and most importantly, describe how you are different from them. Be specific about the differentiation because you will be asked about it. What makes you different from your competitors? Do your homework here. Investors have superior BS detection systems and telling them you have no competition would be “frowned upon”.
5 — Your Business Model. Describe the ways that your business will make money. How will you monetize the business? If you launch and receive revenue during Startup Weekend Tallahassee, let the judges know this because it has happened before!
6 — Your Customer Acquisition Strategy. Describe your customers and how you will get them through sales and marketing. How are you going to get people to buy your product or service? You can have the best product or service in the entire universe but if you can’t sell it, it is totally worthless.
7 — The Ask. Briefly tell how much money you are seeking and the percentage of the company that you are willing to give up for that amount. How much do you need and how will you use it? For Startup Weekend Tallahassee you might not need to present this in your pitch but you should be ready and able to answer the question if it is asked.
If you follow the steps above by filling in the template, preparing to answer questions, and practicing ad nauseam, you will be successful in delivering a stellar pitch. You will also be able to experience that wonderful feeling when an investor shakes your hand, pulls out their checkbook and asks, “How do I make out the check”?
Remember, you are not delivering a eulogy nor are you hocking cheap crap on late night infomercials. This is your dream and vision. Bring your “A Game” with energy and enthusiasm to show your audience that you are confident that your idea is a fundable game changer. Prepare and best of luck!