Every interaction in the formative stages of your business is all about how well you can pitch your idea.
Whether it’s to your 90-year-old grandma or a seasoned investor from a reputable venture capital firm – getting what you need to grow your business is crucially dependent on your ability to pitch your idea in a clear and meaningful way.
Basically, you need to make sure you avoid boring the hell out of people. Remember your obsession is more than likely not going to be shared by everyone – in my case logistics isn’t the most entertaining topic to talk about at dinner parties.
My co-founder Will On and I have pitched at Tech 23, Innovation Bay and, more recently were awarded top prize at the SydStart last week.
In addition to pitching competitions, we’ve also secured investment from the NSW government and some high-profile investors.
Pitching competitions help you strengthen your purpose, pitching at SydStart was a challenge. When you’ve got just two or three minutes to shine – you need to be really clear about what you do and why you do it.
So what’s in a winning pitch? Here are some tips Will and I put together:
1. Clearly and concisely outline the problem and how you’re solving it
Being clear on our problem is fundamental to getting “head nods” nice and early.
Lots of startups we have competed with struggled to get their problem across clearly and quickly. If you spend more than 30 seconds trying to explain the problem you’re solving, you need to re-focus your pitch.
2. Showcase your winning proposition
The next challenge is making your idea simple to communicate – you need to tell people what you do, how you do it and why it’s a good thing. Rather than using complex models and lots of words, let your actual features to do the talking for you.
Don’t get bogged down over-explaining how it works.
3. Traction speaks a thousand words
Testimonials, number of users, actual data points around the problem you are solving all demonstrate that your idea has potential and can turn into a meaningful business with investment.
Evidence breeds credibility and believability.
4. Avoid using “The Uber of…”
Describing your business by using the names of other startups doesn’t signify originality. In fact, it actually distracts your audience from understanding what it is that you do and shows them how far away your business actually is from getting that type of visibility. It also signifies that you haven’t worked hard enough to uniquely position your business to win.
5. Showcase your team
Plain and simple, the team is crucial to unlocking support. We have been lucky enough to attract an all-star team at Shippit.com and that gives investors confidence that we can deliver on our ambition. Show your audience their faces and tell them why you chose them to be a part of your team.
6. It’s all about the delivery
Your entire pitch can fall on deaf ears if you don’t deliver it with panache. Nobody is going to get excited about logistics unless we make it fun and relatable, so bring energy when pitching. Finally, technical stuff-ups are inevitable, prepare for any type of setback and reduce your risk factor – video and live demos are synonymous with “this never happens” moments.
Rob Hango-Zada is co-founder and director of Shippit.