Last week, I attended a Mark Bouris of Yellow Brick Road) hosted workshop at Cub where he and Creel Price Investible spent the day giving us their insights about how to make a good pitch and what it takes to get investors interest. They shared with me and the 130+ attendees, who jam-packed into Sydney's brand new business networking clubhouse, their learnings to date, and also the stories of success they had heard about. Lisa Messenger of the Collective Hub, Trevor Folsom from Investible, Wyatt Roy - Assistant Minister of Education, and a group of others were also present sharing their knowledge and advice.
Here goes, the tips to make an awesome pitch like uber:
1. Invest in your image.
If you have an important initial meeting/briefing coming up with investors, and they're going to come to your office to see "your operation", then you need to invest in your image. This means if your office doesn't have sofas, maybe it's time you went out and bought or rent them. Portraying a good image is crucial to making a good first impression!
2. Have courage to ask for what you want.
A lot of of startups will pitch, show, tell and inspire but they don't end up with asking what they want. That's a rookie mistake. So make sure it's obvious. Whether you need money, advice, mentorship or just an introduction to someone else – have the courage to ask, and make what you want clear.
3. Be authentic.
Investors are going to buy into you as a person, just as much as what you're selling. You could have the best product/service in the world, but that doesn't mean much if you are not liked. So, be genuine and honest, and if you don't know the answer to a question it's okay to say "I don't know". Any day of the week, an investor would rather hear you say that, instead of you trying to make up lies which makes you look worse.
4. Make faster better decisions without angst.
You've heard it a million times; go with your gut, follow your instincts and make better decisions. So it's no surprise this came up. Simply put – don't overthink things and situations. Follow your heart, and go what feels right, and stick to it. Too much going back and forward is going to harm you and your ambitions.
5. Be clear about what you are.
Are you a software company or a car rental company? Are you a food delivery service, or supermarket that delivers?. Yes there's a difference. Whatever it is, drill it down, figure it out and aim to be the best of that. Uber didn't go out and claim to be cheaper and more convenient than a taxi. Just the latter. So, choose one thing and absolutely own it and be known for it.
6. Build a prototype.
It will be close to impossible to get funding if you don't have a prototype of your offering. Whether it's a sample physical device or an app prototype, without a preliminary version, your pitch is just going to be a series of words coming out of your mouth. A video is great without doubt, but a hands on prototype will sell itself and more likely seal the deal.
7. When developing your pitch, keep three types of people in mind:
The customer, who is the end-user, so it goes without saying you need to express how they will use/benefit from your proposed offering.
A teenager is someone you need to be able to explain your offering to. They don't (generally) understand business like older people do, so this forces you to break it down and really simplify your proposition in layman's terms.
The investor. Who you need to convince to make it all happen.
8. Always find a hook to be more memorable.
This may be the hardest part, but try your best to find something that may directly appeal to the judging panel or the audience. For example:
– If your product is offered to solving an issue for women, tell the audience to imagine their sister, their mother or daughter in the situation.
– If you're proposing something related to housing and accommodation, compare yourself to Airbnb, one of the biggest movers and shakers in the market.
– If your talking about homeless orphan kids, or endangered animals, share a touching story or display a reflective photo.
Thing is, by doing any of the above, your pitch goes from being a series of words and figures, to a story. And that's what you want to do. Build a story around your pitch and get the audience so engaged and involved, that they remember you and want to know more.
9. Last but not least, you have to LOVE what you do.
If you don't show passion, you will go nowhere. Every single judge on the panel commented at one stage or another on how important loving what you do is. If you don't, then you put the investors at risk of you giving up and getting bored or moving on, and leaving their interest and investment hanging with no future. Passion shows that you will continue to do it regardless of how hard the times get. So you have to love what you do.