According this article, research found that the 4th biggest problem among startups is that they lack money.
One of the most common ways startups can search for money is through investors. And in order to secure this money, we need to be able to pitch and sell our ideas. If you are reading this article, chances are you might need help developing that perfect pitch. I will share with you my secrets to pitching and how I prepared for the high intensity pitching event that helped me to sculpt my pitch into what it is today.
I work for Sciago, a startup creating an online platform of tools and services for researchers in the urban sciences, as well as externalizing R&D for top companies working in the urban sciences. To find out what the urban sciences are, read on here.
At Sciago, we started our business with the change in our pockets and working side jobs to make money. Now that we have been incorporated and have done work with our first client, we are ready for the next step: investors. This is why I recently decided to apply for a pitching event where I had the chance to pitch Sciago 9 times in a row, to 9 different investors.
Before we get into the tools I used to prepare, it is important to understand the rules for this particular event since they also play an important role in the preparation of my pitch. In order to be selected (there were 40 applicants and only 10 were selected), I needed to submit one of the best one page explanations of my business, no rules outlined on how exactly.
If you think about that, that’s one standard-sized page explaining the entire startup and not a lot of space to work with. But what I discovered was that this exercise was unique in that it was almost the perfect pre-requisite for preparing my pitch, helping me to think about only the most important facts and figures for investors. So, how do you sell your startup in one page?
Lesson number one: use as many infographics, photos, and images as possible for explaining your startup on paper. According to Neomam Studios, “we can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second.” Think about road signs, for example; if we had to read those while we were driving… well, I don’t think I need to say more.
I’m lucky I come from a design background because my brain immediately thought about this exercise in terms of images. Here is what I did:
Now, back to the rules for the pitch aspect of this event. The game stated that startups had only 5 minutes maximum with each investor. Then, they would ring a bell, we would switch tables, and start all over again pitching to the next investor. This was a very rapid fire pitch, ask and answer exercise. My pitch changed just slightly every time I moved to the next investor because I had learned a new lesson with every new investor. By the end of the event, I was already so sure that I could pitch my idea to Emmanuel Macron. So, how did I arrive at my perfect starting pitch you ask? It’s easy and I will give you the same exact tools to help you do the same.
- Organize Your Most Important Facts and Figures on Paper.
First, I looked for the best resources the internet could offer and I chose the best two to help guide me. I fully completed the pitching template you see below. It asked me 10 of the most important questions for organizing my thoughts into a pitch. You can download the full version of the template here or watch this extremely easy to understand video here. My final version below is refined so I could cut my pitch down to 2 minutes.
Then, I compared this starting template to Guy Kawasaki’s guide The Only Ten Slides You Need in a Pitch. The combination of the two resources helped me to form a well rounded pitch.
- How to Prepare Your Pitch
So, now that you have your pitch down on paper, you have to memorize your pitch while learning how to be an actress/actor. If you’re anything like me and have the monster inside called stage fright, I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to memorize and practice my pitch. I first practiced alone until I memorized it, then acted it out in front of my team members and other entrepreneurs, and even friends over video calls. This process took me around 3 days.
Since I knew the entire 5 minutes with the investors would not be me speaking, I needed to memorize all the beautiful facts and figures that investors want to hear. Whatever your startup’s strong points are, memorize those like your life depends on it because investors will not forget to ask you those questions and more: market share, market size, 5 year plan, expansion plans, money you’ve made up until this point, money you have projected to make in the next 5 years, business model numbers etc.
- How to Pitch with Confidence
One last thing after you have prepared and memorized your facts and figures, relax. How did I kick those nerves before and during the event? I practiced yoga and meditation. Those were my greatest tools. Breathing exercises, yoga, and mindfulness all helped me to get through the hardest most nerve racking moments in this event. Remembering to breathe when the most intense investor was asking me a question that I didn’t have the answer for, helped get me through those moments while answering with a full confident voice. Staying mindful helped me to stay focused through all of the tough questions so I could think clearly. And of course practicing yoga before the event helped to calm my nerves by releasing unnecessary toxins from my body so I could stand taller and speak clearer while feeling energized.
If you are interested in seeing how the event went you can check it out here.
Article by April Lipatan
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