5 things you need to know before you start pitching

Cheryl Mack – Startcon CEO

As CEO of StartCon – Australia’s largest startup conference and pitching competition, for the last 3+ years, I’ve seen thousands of pitches.

This year, with our exciting first for the Asia Pacific region, Pitch for $1 Million competition, in partnership with Right Click Capital, I’ll be visiting the startup capitals of Asia Pacific – and I can’t wait!

Got a startup that you’re hoping to gain funding and exposure for? Let’s start with the basics: here are 5 things you need to know before you start planning your pitch deck and presentation.

1. Know your audience

First, let’s establish your audience. Who is this pitch deck geared to? Investors, consumers, or potential business partners? Each one is very different.

Let me break them down for you:

2. Be prepared to sell yourself

You need to be prepared to show your expertise and to sell your previous experience, especially if it’s relevant to your pitch. Don’t be afraid to brag about your previous successes (even if not related to your current company).

Already got a team and/or a co-founder? Then make sure to shout about them too. You might have an ex-Google exec on board as an advisor, that would demonstrate buy in.

Make sure to show them your passion for the business or the problem your solving. People need to buy into YOU. An anecdote might work really well here about what problem you faced and why you came up with your product.

3. Communicate concrete details

It’s really important to think about the language you use in your pitch.

Here are two example descriptions of the same (albeit fake) product, MackBot:

  1. MackBot will help e-commerce stores sell more products using cutting-edge AI-enabled algorithms and machine learning.
  2. MackBot built Google’s type search box as a Magento plugin. It boosts search-to-purchase conversion and AOV.

Now description A is not short of buzzwords here, but it doesn’t do the best job of explaining what the product does. The language is vague and wouldn’t instill someone with confidence that the person writing this copy actually knows what they’re talking about, let alone that they could build it. Description B however, demonstrates that a product already exists so they know what stage the product is at. It also shows the product’s value as well as a clearer understanding of the e-commerce business model and leaves you wanting to learn more.

4. Know your numbers

There are two things you need to know here, the numbers that demonstrate your performance so far (if you’re at that stage) and your industry metrics.

Try to gauge the common metrics that startups in your industry or with the same business model are judged on. This will help you to work out what you should be tracking, and whether you’re tracking those metrics yet. Then try to work out how you compare to others in your industry, based on how long your business has been going, so you can sell your successes. If you don’t have enough data yet, then at least demonstrate you know what you should be tracking, and that you are. This shows you will make data-driven decisions in future.

For industry stats, make sure you have the data and that you can back it up. Show that you know the market size as well as the demographics you will be targeting. You may also want to outline the value and price point of your product, and why this is something your target market will buy. Also look for growth trends in your market and any instances where search trends show a growing need and interest in your product.

5. Keep going, no matter what!

As Dory demonstrates in Finding Nemo, sometimes it’s important to “just keep swimming!” If you mess something up don’t worry, no need to get flustered or try to start again, just keep going. Sometimes there will technical trouble, don’t worry, keep going.

At Pitch for $1 Millionyou will have 2 minutes to pitch on stage, so practice your pitch to get the timing right. If however, you finish a little early, that’s okay, don’t waffle on for the sake of it.