Many of you asked me this week to say a bit more about “pitching,” including what the word really means. For an entrepreneur, a “pitch” is what you say and present to potential investors to market yourself, your idea and your business concept — not just to inspire them to invest, but to rush to be first in the queue!
Like I said before, our great reality shows on Kwesé Inc are now the best place for African entrepreneurs to see and hear from the best of the best in the world on this topic… and also watch people who “fail” to get investment (which is the majority). You can learn a lot from them, too!
Today though, in response to your requests, let me share the first of three parts of an excellent article from Entrepreneur magazine, written by Neil Patel, a young entrepreneur who gave me permission to republish it (remember the importance of intellectual property). It’s called: “13 Tips on How to Deliver a Pitch Investors Simply Can’t Turn Down.” Today I’ll share #1 thru #4.
I urge you to study and discuss each of these tips with your friends. You can also use them to assess the pitches and business approaches made by others on Kwesé Inc shows like Shark Tank, Adventure Capitalist and The Profit, because it will help you understand what it takes to secure funding from investors, when you get your chance. It’s important not to treat such shows as mere entertainment because they’re there to help you sharpen your skills!
Neil Patel’s “13 Tips” are excellent, and I will republish them all. But let me give you the most important tip of all: Securing funding from investors who require you to make a pitch, is won or lost long before you arrive to make your pitch!
__It’s going to be decided by the PREPARATIONS you make in the months and weeks leading up to that pitch.
In his article, Neil writes:
“Your pitch is the single thing that could either get your business off the ground or plunge your idea into eternal oblivion. It matters.
The rule of thumb for investors is that for every 100 investments they make, only 10 will go big.
Let me take that rule of thumb a step further. For every 1,000 pitches an investor hears, he or she will fund only 100 of them. Statistically, the odds for success are not great. You can beat the statistics, however, by crafting a pitch that turns heads and gets funded.
What are the ingredients of an ultra-compelling, irresistible, outstanding, and unforgettable pitch?
1. Take only ten minutes.
Timing is critical. The less time your pitch takes, the better.
A brilliant idea means nothing unless you can distill it to a few moments of sheer power. The more concise you can be, the more effective you will be. Here are a few timing pointers:
# If you say that you’ll take “only X minutes,” then take at least one minute less.
# If you are told, “You only have X minutes to pitch,” then take at least five minutes less.
# If you say, “One last thing” or something similar, then make sure it’s truly the
one last thing.
# Move at a good pace. Don’t rush at the end.
# If you’re using slides, don’t get stuck on one slide for more than three minutes.
Here’s the great thing about taking ten minutes. If the investors are really interested, they’ll ask questions. If they’re not interested, then you will have saved them (and yourself) some time.
2. Turn your pitch into a story.
Storytelling is a scientifically-proven way to capture a listener’s attention and hold it. Besides, it makes your pitch unforgettable.
Investors are bored with spreadsheets, valuations and numbers. If they want that information, they can get it. What you can offer that no term sheet can convey is the story and pathos behind your startup. Everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven investor.
So, tell your story and tell it right. You’re bound to gain attention, and the funding will follow.
3. Be laser-focused.
Investors’ time is their most valuable asset. If you convey a respect for their time, they will interpret that respect as your ability to treat their funding with respect.
Because time is important, you need to develop an absolute focus on the core components of your pitch. What are those core components? They’re detailed in the following tips.
4. Explain EXACTLY what your product or service is.
Show your potential investors a picture of, or give them the actual product to handle.
Be careful not to drone endlessly on about your product. Honestly, investors don’t really care about your product as much as they care about the money that your product will make. The sooner you get to the good stuff — the money — the better. . .”
To be continued. . .
Image credit: Nature Picture Library. African fish eagle, Chobe River, Botswana.