In the last installment of the column, we looked at the psychology and neuroscience that should be understood to best deliver a successful pitch, or in other words, convince your audience that your idea/business is a good one, and therefore suitable for investment.
In this installment, the second of three on how to pitch, we’ll examine key elements of the business pitch itself and its presentation.
Craft a story
Building off of the previous installment, in which we learned that the “crocodile brain” best responds to information that is exciting, new, dangerous, and packaged in narrative format, your business pitch should be constructed and presented as a story. A well-crafted story will succinctly include details about the development of your business from ideation to where you are now. (Take care to not make this an “and then…and then” chronological list of events as this is boring and will cause people to lose focus.) Craft the story around the components outlined in the next section.
Woven within this story should be context — what’s happening within your industry, what are its deficiencies, how are you addressing these and reshaping the industry and the world moving forward.
Another important component of the story that you deliver with your pitch presentation should be how and why your business is at the perfect stage for investing — we’re about to take off, our team is gelling, the industry is at a tipping point, etc. — and why the investors you have in the room are well suited to be the ones, by way of their investment, to enable you to take your business to the next level.
Lastly, you want to ideally include a big reveal in the final slide, and you want to refer to the upcoming reveal a number times throughout the pitch to intrigue your audience and keep them focused and attentive.
These are the components that you should craft your story around. Let’s quickly take a look each one:
- Problem: What is the issue you’re aiming to resolve with your business? Where and why is there a market pain that needs to be addressed?
- Product or service: This is the tool you’re going to use to the solve the problem that you just highlighted. Why is it unique, innovative, going to work?
- Target market: How large or focused is the addressable market you’re targeting? How is it segmented? What is its potential for growth?
- Competition and your competitive advantage: Who else is operating in the industry/space? What are their shortcomings? How is your product or service superior to theirs?
- Business model and financial projections: How do you monetise and generate revenue? What is your overhead? What are your forecasted growth projections for the coming years?
- Management team: Why is your management team well suited to lead the company to success? What are their fields of expertise? Are they experienced entrepreneurs?
- Milestones and accomplishments: Do you have any concrete evidence of success or growth that bode well for the future? Have you raised money before? From who?
- Use of funds: How much do you want to raise, by when, and against how much equity? What are you going to do with the money? How will that lead to growth and get you to your next milestone?
- Exit strategy: How and when can investors expect to exit their investment and get a return? Be specific. Plan on getting acquired? By who? Identify a number of potential buyers.
Be sure to limit your pitch presentation to 8 or 9 slides (one per component) and 15 minutes in length. People have short attention spans so you want to keep the pitch short and sweet, but yet covering all the necessary information. Also, don’t print it out and distribute it to the investors. They will flip through it during your pitch and not give you their full attention. Email it to them afterwards.
Remember to be engaging and to interact with your audience. This will keep them involved and keep you in control, which as we saw in the last column, is important to activating their crocodile brains.
Lesson Six: When pitching, there is a lot of information that you need to convey in a short amount of time. Packaging the aforementioned elements into a compelling story isn’t easy and takes practice, and there is no substitute for the real thing. Keep pitching and keep tweaking it until you get it right.
Read Part 1 – To raise, or not to raise?
Read Part 2 – Who should you raise from?
Read Part 3 – Debt vs Equity Financing
Read Part 4 – When to raise
Read Part 5 – Pitch Psychology