Pitch your startup… What does it mean?

A pitch, or business pitch, is the short presentation startup founders make for investors, potential customers, competition jury, business partners, and many more! The pitch is not just made of words, it’s a set of slides with relevant information, visuals, and an overall passionate energy that will woo your audience! All this is your ‘pitch deck’. Thus, it is very important you are able to explain what your startup does in a clear and efficient way, so that the people you are talking to will be interested in your idea (and not doze off!). The best approach is to tell a compelling, 3-minute story about what is wrong with the world, what the inevitable solution is, how your product happens to be that solution, and why your company will succeed. Everyone likes to hear about a product or service which will make their lives easier or their business more efficient.

You will find below advice and tools to help you in preparing an exciting 3-minute pitch!

Pitching Tips and Tricks

It is easy to find great tips and tricks from seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, pitch coaches, and mentors on how to get your message across when pitching. Although there’s no magic formula, there are certain skills you can master to increase your chances of success!

  • British entrepreneur Kyle Gawley shared the lessons he has learnt after delivering over 50 startup pitches in 18 months all over the world.
    The 7 top takeaways are:
    1) Tell a structured and unique story to clearly communicate to your specific audience the key points which you think they will find engaging
    2) Use a case study to explain your problem to make it easier to understand
    3) Don’t talk endlessly about your product’s features. You’re pitching a business, not a product
    4) Use simple metrics
    5) Don’t exceed your allocated time
    6) Spend time designing your slides, it helps you look professional
    7) Close with a summary and call to action. Make sure to  finish on a high note!
  • ​In this article, entrepreneur Ryan Robinson reviews 18 pitching essentials divided in 5 stages to help you make the best pitch for your startup.
  • For a 3-minute pitch, this article summarizes the 7 keys to a great 3-minute startup pitch, and presents a nice structure containing 6 parts:
    1) State the opportunity (problem) and why it attracted you
    2) Describe the story of “what you do” as succinctly as possible
    3) Reveal the “Secret Sauce” i.e. your value proposition, your innovation!
    4) Discuss the target market
    5) Explain how you will make money
    6) Paint the big picture, the potential for your business!
  • Patrick McKenzie works at Stripe on Atlas, helping ambitious companies worldwide get started and scale. He has built and run four software companies who operated internationally. In The Abridged Guide to Pitching Your Startup, he explains how to have a strong pitch:
    1) Know your audience
    2) Sell yourself and your team to show you have the shoulders to make your business successful!
    3) Communicate concrete details, in an explicit and clear way
    4) Target an attractive market to demonstrate that the opportunity for your business is big!
    5) Share a unique insight on how you are going to conquer the market!
    6) Know your numbers and what they mean
  • In this playlist of 8 short videos, pitch coach David Beckett gives you tips and tricks on how to make a great pitch. At the Young Creators Summit 2016 in Amsterdam, Beckett also talked about how to give the perfect pitch.

What about the pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a brief presentation, often created using PowerPoint or other presentation tools, used to provide your audience with a quick overview of your business plan. It consists of succinct ideas and great visuals to support the pitch you’re delivering to your audience!

Pitch tools to help you organize your story

  • To brainstorm the talking points you want to cover in your pitch,  the Pitch Canvas© can  help you organize your ideas. The Pitch Canvas© divides the different themes of a pitch into a set of sub-questions. It is up to you to adjust the length and content of your pitch by deciding what questions you want to address. The Pitch Canvas© was developed by David Beckett, an excellent pitch coach with whom Ye! has worked at the BoostCamp in Amsterdam. David Beckett also came up with the Open-3-Close Pitch Model to guide young entrepreneurs through the different steps of making a startup pitch:w-ZmFiiBuELRx8jSavJRI81u7Z2hc4yujn36FOW0bt61hw2Xp5bqQ3A4LdWJbQUEkHfdmzgA8q12GuuWdseNRNUM97rESm_8P5Lw5wPfl6Gy9dNjPVKG6W1ihE0t5eqLgEuZuW0Q
  • To help you create your pitch deck, you can find here different templates for your pitch deck to get some fresh inspiration! You can also test out Capital Pitch. Because Ye! is friends with Capital Pitch, they’re offering a two-week trial for free!

Learn from examples!

  • Here are some examples of famous pitch decks, along with the best takeaways from each deck to give you a better idea of what to include in your own one. You can also find more examples here.
  • Check out the 3-minute pitch by Cindy Wu, founder of Experiment (previously “Microryza”), at the Y Combinator Demo Day. The 90-second pitch of Paysail at Demo Africa in Silicon Valley can also provide you with some inspiration. If you want to make a funny and entertaining pitch, have a look at Party On Demand’s founder Willie G delivering a crazy and memorable 3 minute-pitch at Startupfest in Montreal!

To summarize… The pitch checklist!

After going through all the articles and examples, here are the most important things to have in mind when preparing your pitch:

  • Know your audience: what are their needs?
  • Define your objective: What is the goal of your pitch?
  • Brainstorm your main highlights
  • Turn your ideas into a story!
  • Be clear, efficient & straight to the point
  • Respect the amount of time you are given
  • Illustrate your pitch with simple slides and attractive visuals

Header image courtesy of Pixabay.

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