Just think about how unfair it is. As a startup you have a good product, you know there’s demand on the market, and yet, no one wants to invest. What could you possibly be doing wrong? Well, think about the talking.
No, this is not the only reason it’s not working, however it may be one of the factors you’d like to think about as soon as you finish reading this article.
Talking is the crucial part of your business, whether you like it or not, and it’s your job to come up with the most brilliant way to advertise your solution. How you communicate influences greatly the future of your business, so it’s in your interest to make your messages as clear and compelling as possible.
Learn from others’ mistakes. We’re strongly advising, that you stick to a few rules before going out there and pitching in front of your potential investors and business partners. For that, we’ve prepared most common mistakes we’ve been seeing at the Great Pitch. The videos provided were recorded during the Great Pitch at Wolves Summit and show some examples of winning presentations. In case it’s the first time you’re hearing about this: it’s a competition for startups, where they pitch in front of a jury that consists of investors and corporates interested in your industry. They have 3 minutes to present the solution (and we are extremely strict when it comes to counting time), then there’s a 4-minute round of questions from the jury. To make things easier, we’re also sharing some of our best Wolves Summit pitches. Here’s why your pitches are not working:
1. The audience doesn’t understand your product
We know you know what it’s about. We know you are an expert and could probably talk about your startup for hours. The point is, not everyone is so accustomed with your industry, plus the audience may be filled with people wanting to learn more, they just don’t get all the complex vocabulary you are using. Remember, it’s on you to make others desire your solution, so please, please, please use simple language. If you really need a complicated deep-tech word, explain it and then carry on.
You’ve most definitely felt confused when as a kid you skipped a class and came back trying your best to catch up. Think about it like that: your pitch tells people, why your product or service is worth investing in, why not make it easier for them by stating the main features clearly?
Pitch by Cemal Kavasogullari from Innovative Healthcare Solution. Wolves Summit October 2015.
2. You’re saying too much
Again, we know you can elaborate on the subject for long, but remember the audience has its limits. During the Great Pitch people have only 3 minutes to attract investors, you will often be given even less, depending on the situation you’re in. There is literally no time to go through each and every detail of your solution. You can write them all down, then prioritize the list. Choose ones that have to be explained, ones that are cool to include, and ones that won’t affect the decision-making process anyway. Use short sentences, don’t complicate them, start with the strongest feature, stay consistent. Leave room for some mystery, intrigue your listeners, so that they want to explore your solution. You don’t need to say everything to sell. See the video below for proof:
Pitch by Marko Rant from The Invoice Exchange. Wolves Summit April 2016.
3. The pitch is lacking key elements
Be warned: decreasing the amount of words you’ll say to the audience does not mean you can omit key elements. These include the answers to some most important questions investors will always have:
How does the product solve my problem? Do I even have a problem?
What’s the main distinctive feature and how is your product different from the competition?
What’s the stage of the project, is it creating revenue?
How do you acquire clients? What’s your business model?
What’s the form of funding you’re looking for? What numbers are we talking? How much have you raised so far?
Can you show me the team behind it?
Prepare your pitch based on these 6 points, try and predict, what questions does it lead to and how you can answer them. It does require time and some digging, but after all, you’re the expert here.
Pitch by Jaakko Paalanen from Leadfeeder. Wolves Summit April 2016.
4. You’re presenting yourself
Here’s a fact: no one wants to listen to you talk about yourself. It’s basically considered rude to brag and prove how awesome you are. It’s not getting you any sales leads, let alone investment. So, if possible, limit speaking about you and your achievements to one or two sentences at the end of your presentation. Unless you have a story about your team that clearly corresponds to your solution. Example: the pitch below shows Deekit, an online whiteboard for effective remote working. The speaker tells a story of her team, who was struggling to get work done having co-workers spread across the world. They found out the problem is not limited to their group, there are many others facing the same obstacles. That’s how Deekit was created, to answer the needs of remote teams. So in short, don’t promote yourself, tell a story about how you faced a problem.
Pitch by Kaili Kleemeier from Deekit. Wolves Summit April 2016.
5. It’s the wrong audience
This one’s tough. You may have the best pitch ever, but when you’re in front of the wrong people, those who know nothing about your industry, you have a problem. Whether you’re pitching in the investors’ offices or at conferences like Wolves Summit, do the research and see who’s coming. What do they invest in mostly? What are the industries and solutions they are interested in? Have they already invested in similar companies? With some online work, you can determine, who to contact. Make it your priority to deep dive into your industry, find out what the characteristics of the market are and how you complement them. Prepare a summary based around your target group. The common mistake you see in regular companies, like advertising agencies, is that managers tend to generalise prospective clients. You must step into their shoes, create a persona and specify age, interests, struggles, perspectives, and preferences of a customer. This will give you the idea of which companies target similar groups. Study investors’ portfolio companies to learn, what they look for most frequently.
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