That 1st presentation… 1st pitch

June 9, 2010

While pitching to the investors one has to address many things, lets see what are the key elements of the pitch that investor is listening for the first time from you.

Even before you pick up any tool to start making the presentation, you have to prepare the outline in your mind or on paper. It should address the following elements :

1. Who is the audience. Most often a standard product presentation is given to the investors, users and well-wishers. How is that going to help to create interest. As a creator / entrepreneur you have reasons to love your creation, but why others should love it and pay attention to its features and functions. Each audience has different interest. Hence your pitch has to be different for each of them

2. Second thing that you should ask yourself – what do you want to achieve after this presentation. As Jerry Weissman, in his book “Presenting to Win” says that you should be ready to take the audience from Point A to Point B.

This is just the initial preparation. Lets talk about these two points in more details from Entrepreneur pitching to Investors perspective.

Fine-tunning the pitch to the audience :

It is important to note what would be the interest of the investors. Most often the entrepreneurs do the product presentation. They think, if I love this product so much, others would also do. Not true. Investors are putting in money and they are interested in return on their money. They would look for :

Are you solving any problem, is it a big problem, would it address large enough market size and how well are you in a position to address the market.

More often entrepreneurs shy away from saying what is the key problem they are trying to solve. They start with market size, market opportunity – but most  of the time investors know about the market, because they have sat through hundreds of such pitches and updated fairly well – unless it is a very niche market you are addressing.

To give an example – there are lot of products / offering people want to bring to market to tap into the growing use of smartphones using location based services. Most investors, by this time, know the impact of smartphones accessing internet in terms of number of smartphones being sold, use of social media sites through smartphones etc. What is of their interest is what problem are you trying to solve in this space.

The best way to articulate the problem is story telling. Tell a story of a typical user and highlight what limitations he / she has, how it is not being addressed, how through your offering if you solve this problem he/she going to be so happy that he/she would be ready to pay.

You can make the storyline quite engaging by use of audio-visuals, nice pictures etc. The simpler the better.

What do I want to achieve after this presentation – End in Mind

Once you have created this outline, that what do you want to tell to whom, then you have to ask the next question, what do I want to achieve after this presentation.This is similar to ‘End in Mind’ thinking as highlighted in Stephen Covey’s book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective people’

Though, your ultimate objective is to get funding from the investors, you are not going to achieve that in first step. Your first step should be (more often) to get him /her interested in you, your offering. He / she is not going to cut a cheque after first presentation.There are going to be series of talks / meetings, exchange of information before you get the money in your bank. So your first presentation should be to really make him/her say :

“wow, lets talk more”

Wow, it was great, lets see how much money you need”

Wow, this is interesting, this is a real opportunity and we are impressed with your understanding and energy”

Now, he/she may not say all of the above adjectives publicly, but if you get a 2nd meeting with positive impact on the investor’s mind to cut a cheque, you have achieved the objective of 1st presentation.

Then of course there more factors that you have take into consideration while presenting – such as style, energy, timing etc. We would see those as we go.


Startups pitching – what went wrong at echelon2010

June 2, 2010

I was attending the echelon2010 event yesterday. An excellent event, great speakers and wonderful audience. Greate place to be in if you are a start up company, entrepreneur, want to understand what entrepreneurship is all about, meet up with potential investors and mentors.

The last session of the day was pitching by the startups which was judged by the panel of experts. This is an excellent opportunity for startups to get feedback and pitch their company/ products to potential investors. There were 12+ startups who presented but only one of them stood out (foound) and received positive attention from audience and judges.

Other 11 failed to impress, not because none of them had good idea or good product but simply it was a matter of lack of proper communication and presentation. There were lot of comments on twitter ( #echelon2010) about reasons. Dave Mcclure who has become darling of the audience and other panellists were trying to coach the presenters, beside judging them.

In my opinion the number one reason was that these companies failed to define for whom were they presenting the solution. What did they want to achieve after the pitching.

I felt that they were confused if they were presenting to investors for money or they were presenting to potential buyers of their offering or they were presenting to fellow geeks. Your contents, pitch all depend on this factor. If you don’t get this very first thing right, then you are not going anywhere. Then you need to follow other presentation techniques as well.

I was feeling like going out and spending some time with the startups to help them get their pitch right. I would be happy to do so today, if any of the today’s start-ups want some help.

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