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.