Posts Categorized: Startups

How to Get an Investor to Jump at Your Pitch

Anatomy of an Investor Pitch

Normally, we like to talk about all things public relations here. But, we recently wrapped up a short project with a client to help with messaging, particularly for this client’s investor pitch. Because we work with startups quite frequently, we go to a lot of events where new businesses are pitching themselves to win investor interest.

We’re a sponsor of the upcoming Beta City event, which includes both a VC Pitch Day and a Demo VIP event! Put all these together, and we thought it was a good time to share what we’ve seen work for pitching investors. While we’re firm believers in the adage, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” we’ve seen this formula work again and again in eliciting interest.

Parts of a Pitch

There are essentially six parts to a pitch, and each should answer a specific question:

  • Summary: Who are you and what do you do
  • Problem: What is the problem your product seeks to solve? How real is this problem?
  • Solution: What is the actual solution to this problem? Not just what your product is, but how will your specific product solve the problem?
  • Market opportunity: Not only how big is the market, but how big is the addressable market? Meaning, how much of the market do you realistically believe you can capture?
  • Team: Who are you and what expertise do you have to make this a reality?
  • Ask: What do you believe you need to make this a reality?
Characteristics of a Pitch

Of course, simply having these five parts in your pitch isn’t going to be enough. If the anatomy is just the skeleton of your pitch, you need to flesh it out. Here are some characteristics we’ve seen work really well:

  • Story: You’ve heard this a million times before–people don’t buy what, they buy why. How do you get to why? By telling a story. Doesn’t have to be long, it only needs to illustrate the situation.
  • Surprise: We don’t mean someone jumping out of a cake (though that might grab some laughs). But your pitch should have something in it that surprises the audience–a counter-intuitive fact, for example.
  • Entertainment: The best pitches connect with their audiences emotionally as well as intellectually. Don’t be a goof ball, but also don’t be afraid of showing some personality, either.
  • Why now? Why wasn’t this product made last year, or five years ago even? Why is now such a crucial time for your product to come to market?
  • What is the market change that makes your company/product compelling: Related to “Why Now?” it’s essential to explain what has changed (or failed to change for that matter) in the marketplace that makes the need for your product all that much more urgent. For example, the proliferation of consumer-quality high-speed Internet paved the way for companies like Hulu and Netflix in ways that didn’t exist in previous years.
  • Candid assessment of competitive landscape: This will show you really know your industry. The more knowledgeable you are about your competitors and how your product fits in, the more your own expertise will shine through, making it clear that your company is the one that will best execute on the idea.

Got any more tips? Let us know in the comments below.


Cut through the Noise to Get Past Seed Stage

Cut Through the Noise

Well-known startup speaker and doer, Paul Singh, shared some interesting words of wisdom recently in a Washington Business Journal article. According to Singh, there are two reasons why startups have difficulty getting past the seed stage. The first is that there’s a lot of competition between companies to get the next round of funding. The second:

They get lost in the noise.

Quite simply, they don’t do a good enough job of grabbing–and holding–the attention of their potential customers. There are likely a lot of competitors out there, many with bigger budgets, who can drown out others in the field.

So, how does a startup cut through the noise so they can get to the next stage? The answer is one part ingenuity, one part elbow grease, and one part stick-to-itiveness.

Ingenuity

Terms like innovation and creativity get thrown around a lot (too much) in the business world, but we think a better term to focus on is ingenuity. Today’s marketing takes being a little clever as well as inventive. Not in a sneaky or under-handed way, but in a way that can quickly grab, hold and engage your audience for a good reason. Being clever in your marketing is important, but it also can apply to your product development (this is especially important as you iterate). Zig when others are zagging. Tell your story in a way that helps people feel the problem you’re trying to solve, so that they can feel the relief your product brings them. Think hard (see elbow grease below) about what makes your customers tick, what makes them pull the trigger, and find interesting and fun ways to get them to pull that trigger. Of course, you can burn those triggers out, but that’s o.k.  If you have a little ingenuity you will come up with something new when that happens.

Elbow Grease

Did your parents ever tell you when you were a kid to put some “elbow grease” into it? Ours sure did, especially when it came to household chores. Marketing and public relations is hard work. It takes a keen mind for both strategy and attention to detail. It often requires long hours, hunched over a computer, a spreadsheet, a media list. It takes constant vigilance of your social media accounts to make sure you respond to every tweet. But, as you may have found out when you were younger, the more work you put into something oftentimes the more rewarding it can be (unless, of course, that something is doing household chores). Take the time to do some market research. Take the time to hone your message. Take the time to get to know and interact with your customers.

Stick-to-itiveness

Like elbow grease, marketing and public relations takes an on-going and sustained effort. This is particularly challenging for startups who may not have the longest runway (gotta keep that burn rate under control!). And while we offer one-off, tactically-focused PR packages for startups, it’s not unusual for the results of these efforts to resemble blips on a radar that come and go. In other words, the results get out there, the company picks up some users (or 40,000 in one case), and then user growth and sales die as soon as the attention shifts away from their product.

So, if you’re a startup and you can’t afford to hire a PR or marketing firm, or even an intern to help you, here’s how you tackle stick-to-itiveness: Spend 15 minutes/day sending email introductions to reporters and editors in your industry. Spend another 15-30 minutes just scanning Twitter or other social platforms for relevant hashtags. And, perhaps most importantly, spend 15 minutes/day staring out into space (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us–this works wonders for your ingenuity).

Don’t be worried about failure or rejection (of course won’t–you’re an entrepreneur!). Stick to it, even when the clever thoughts aren’t coming or you feel like what you’re doing is hard. By committing these relatively small amounts of time, you’ll find after a few months, you’ll have actually achieved some results.


Evolve Communications Barrels into New Year with Six New Clients

anchorman_jumping

Evolve Communications Barrels into New Year with Six New Clients and One Returning Client

PR Firm to Execute Creative Product Launches, Rebranding, and a Variety of Digital and Traditional Campaigns

 

Baltimore, Md. (March 31, 2014)—Evolve Communications, a Baltimore-based public relations and marketing firm that specializes in working with disruptive companies, is pleased to announce the expansion of their portfolio with six new clients for 2014.

 

The firm’s new clients include:

 

  • Gwee Global (gogwee.com) has retained Evolve Communications to launch their national line of hi-tech cleaning accessories for smart phones, and tablets.

 

  • CharmTV (tv25baltimore.com/), Baltimore City’s television station, has engaged Evolve Communications to implement a strategic public relations campaign for its rebrand as CharmTV from TV25.

 

  • Concourse Express (ConcourseExpress.com), innovators of the only courtesy car fleet management solution designed with dealers for dealers, has hired Evolve Communications to launch its new web-based, workflow-integrated loaner car solution, and build awareness of and demand for the Concourse Express solution among auto dealerships using both public relations and social media.

 

  • Capital Media Group (CapMedia.com), a media buying agency that focuses on quantitative results, has teamed up with Evolve to develop robust and informative blog content for their website.

 

  • OpiaTalk (OpiaTalk.com), a Baltimore-based ecommerce startup, has hired Evolve Communications to support their launch.

 

  • Grid Waste (gridwaste.com), an online waste remove procurement, management and payment system, has retained Evolve Communications to promote its platform in the DC metro region and to beyond.

 

  • The Rosen Group (AmericanMadeShow.com), producers of The American Made Show, has renewed their contract with Evolve Communications. Evolve will continue to provide media relations, social media implementation, as well as provide support for the upcoming tradeshow’s move to Washington, DC.

 

“We are excited to have forged partnerships with such an amazing and diverse group of clients. It’s both exhilarating and humbling to be able to work on these projects that range from the local to the national,” states Daniel Waldman, President of Evolve Communications. “We have worked hard to get where we are over the last year and are very proud of the creative work we produce.”

 

Evolve Communications continues to explore new ways to help its clients deliver brand experiences by expanding its strategic offerings. Recently, the firm released Product Launches that Pack a PUNCH! to help startups better manage the product launch process is available as a free download at http://simplyevolve.com/launch. For more information on Evolve Communications, visit http://simplyevolve.com/

 

About Evolve Communications

Evolve Communications creates powerful, meaningful, and effective marketing and PR solutions that fits all types of budgets. Evolve has worked with businesses and organizations of all sizes–and at all stages. Evolve’s work and affordability has made it a choice partner for startups across the country, and in 2012 Evolve launched Rocket Packs for Startups to better serve this community. Rocket Packs for Startups are a set of low-cost marketing and PR packages designed for startups at all stages and levels, intended to give startups the lift they need—to get off the ground or to the next level.