Pitching is an essential aspect of communicating your business to outsiders. You should be able to describe what you do in an intriguing manner in less than 30 seconds to someone with zero knowledge of your industry. Better yet, you should have one sentence that will convey what you do in a way that will make them want to learn more. Example: The iPod “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
I haven’t raised venture money, but I have studied what makes a strong pitch from many investors and consulted with countless students on refining their pitches. Here are some low-hanging fruits that will up your pitch from “okay” to “awesome.”
How to start building your pitch deck
Use Guy Kawasaki’s “The only ten slides you need in a pitch” as your base. It may be appropriate to adjust slightly depending on context, but this will give you a great framework. You should already feel relieved knowing the order and content is set. Now just fill in the slides with the most compelling content.
The most important part of this is introducing the problem before the solution! Always start with the problem and the opportunity that you are addressing before you start talking about the product. Just like a good storyteller, your pitch should start about this terrible problem (villain) that is plaguing the world and then your product (the hero) will come in and make lives better.
Don’t use too many words
This should really go without saying, but it’s just too easy to put a lot of words on your slides. Go through your slides and see where you can cut down. Use visuals to convey statistics. Rather than writing out “74% of people upgraded to the paid version of our service,” show an graphic or just put 74% in large text and then explain the significance.
Show, don’t tell.
Pitching an app? Show screen shots of your mockups. Walk the audience through what it looks like to use your app. Don’t simply tell them the vision, sell them the vision by taking them there. Pitching a hardware product? Bring in a prototype or walk through a demo. Shark tank pitches can be very corny and feel rehearsed (not a good thing), but they do a good job of bringing demonstrations.
Sell the upside
There are two things to understand here. The first is that you’re going to have to make assumptions about future projections. The second thing is that if you’re going to assume, you should assume good rather than bad or just average. You don’t want to lie about what you think will happen, but when faced with the choice of predicting low growth, average growth and high growth, investors want to hear high growth. Again, you should have numbers to back this up. You need a plan to achieve your high goals, but you want to be realistically ambitious with your projections.
To have an investable business, you need to be growing pretty quickly. Think about your pitch as if you were the investor giving up their hard earned money to an unproven entrepreneur. There needs to be a strong upside for them to take the risk!