What I wish I had known before Pitch Prep

Believe it or not, this was a photo brief we had to do for a magazine article…no it has nothing to do with pitching, but it may make you laugh.

A large part of being in the 500 Start-ups Accelerator is that you have to do a 3 minute pitch to investors on “Demo Day” in San Francisco and New York City. Much of the last two months of the 4 month program are spent preparing in practice sessions with mentors and investors. Coming super late into the program, I didn’t get a chance to really prepare or take it too seriously until one Friday, when I needed to have a pitch ready by Monday.

Other than watching past pitches and reading some blog posts, I really had no idea how to put together my pitch. This is not an investor deck that you share via email or present one on one. This is 3 minutes of drama and excitement, that you must perform like an actor on stage. Although, I am not nearly ready for my pitch yet (I have about 2 weeks to go), I thought I would share my learnings so far, it hopefully will save other batches a lot of frustration and time.

Confidence is Key. Regardless of your content, if you can’t say your pitch with complete conviction and inner strength, than be prepared for heckles and jeers from mentors who will proceed to nit pick on everything you said. Even shitty business ideas get funding because the founders were really confident ex: True&Co, DollarShaveClub.

Demo Day(s) is a marketing event. Scrap all numbers and text from your presentation, instead make it nice to look at with pretty pictures and nice colors. Speak slow and use less words, pause for dramatic effect. It sounds silly, but you’re literally putting on a show.

There is no cookie cutter presentation. Don’t try to copy and paste pitches or styles. You will not succeed. Your pitch must be completely your own, from your own heart and experiences.

Pain vs. Opportunity. Not all companies solve problems ex: Zynga, they instead create opportunities. Your company may be creating more of an opportunity versus a pain which may be apparent and obvious. ex: Seat 14A.

Traction vs. Early Stage. If you have traction, beautiful. Start with traction. If you’re early stage and are just developing your company, then talk about your product and what makes you better then what is currently available (we are the only… we have the fastest…). Also, talk about how big the opportunity is and how you plan on taking advantage of it.

Tell a Story. It helps sometimes, to tell a personal story as to why you got into the business as it shows why you’re the best person to run it.

Always Close. At the end of your pitch remember to clearly state how much you’re raising with some sort of punch line. “I am raising 500K, come talk to me after if you want to be a part of the league of well dressed gentlemen.”

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