Get your tickets now! Deb Gabor's session at General Assembly will sell out fast. Sixty Seconds to Success: Hacking the Elevator Pitch at General Assembly on February 1, 2016. Deb is the founder and president of Sol Marketing and is known as the Investor Pitch Whisperer. This is a must-attend event. Register now
"What do you do for a living?"
"What is your company about?"
This is the perfect opportunity to tell your story. The infamous "Elevator Pitch" was created for just such an occasion.
- Be exposed to the Anti-Elevator Pitch and how it serves as an invitation for further conversation
- Start to think of yourself as a “brand” and leverage that to your advantage
- Learn everything that needs to be in your elevator pitch and everything that doesn’t
- Create the building blocks of your own pitch – starting with communicating from a place of “WHY” and culminating in the unique qualities that can make you stand out
- “Hack” the elevator pitch at critical points to create a cohesive story about you and how you make a client or a hiring manager the hero in his or her own story.
10 key learnings from pitching to investors
During a recent trip to Seattle, we sat down with our clients Jen and Parvez from Eterniam. In the throes of meetings with investors to raise a seed round for their fledgling company, they shared some of the things that they have learned by going through the fundraising process. Here are 10 of their key learnings:
1. Practice relentlessly
No matter how prepared you feel, you’re never too prepared for a meeting with an investor.
2. Show how you’re different in the first few seconds
Even if you stay very high level, you need to prove to the investor very quickly that you’re providing a different take than the other companies who are competing in the same category.
3. Connect your company to a personal story
Very quickly in the conversation you need to make your story resonate with investors; a personal story can accomplish this very efficiently.
4. Show how you make money
Maybe if you’re in Silicon Valley you can get away with just going after a ton of users, but [here in Seattle] and most other places you need to show how you are going to make money.
5. Demonstrate scalability
If you are a tech solution that can scale, hit that early and often. This is often one of the most important points for investors.
Standing up to give a pitch is like being in the blocks before the starter’s pistol goes off; you’re guaranteed to get a release of energy as your adrenaline spikes. If you measure your coffee consumption by the pot, try keeping it down to a cup or two before you present.
7. Bring a partner
Not necessarily to help you give the presentation, but rather to keep track of the questions that the investor asks during and after the pitch. Every question that they ask is something that you haven’t made clear in your pitch.
8. Take copious notes
Closely tied to bringing a partner, make sure that all of the questions and feedback gets either written or recorded. Pitching to investors is both nerve-wracking and exciting, and you never know what you’ll end up glossing over in your memory. Having a record of the feedback will allow you to take a more calculated look at what it means for your pitch going forward.
9. Use the feedback for your next meeting
After you and your partner have downloaded and caught up on your caffeine consumption following the pitch, figure out what feedback needs to be implemented for your next meeting.
10. Appreciate every pitch as a learning opportunity
Don’t be discouraged if the investor doesn’t open his or her wallet; most won’t. But do take what you learn and use it going forward!
Most of the companies that come through the doors of our InvestorPitches business are looking for help raising funds from friends, family, angel groups or venture capitalists. Kim Munzo, the winner of our April “Pitch to Win” competition, has taken a different route to funding her ed-tech startup AspirEDU. Max Kerwick from Sol Marketing sat down with Kim to find out a little more about her fundraising strategy, as well as her experience competing for a $1 million prize in Verizon’s Powerful Answers competition.
Max: You’ve accomplished a rather extraordinary feat of funding your company almost entirely through pitch competitions. What is it about you and your company that has enabled you to be so successful? Kim: I really think the key is being really passionate about what you’re pitching. People say that in order to sell something you have to believe in the product; you really need to have the same level of passion when selling your pitch. I believe strongly in our product when I walk prospects through it, and I still get excited when I step up to pitch. You have to have that spark to make it long term.
Max: Did you set out with this strategy in mind? Kim: Our first pitch was completely spontaneous. I had the idea and had worked through the business plan, but I had no idea there would be hundreds of companies there. I didn’t prepare at all, I just did it and ended up winning $25,000. I figured if I could do that off the cuff my chances would be much better with preparation.
After that we decided to make an effort to find contests and prepare for each one individually. Once we had a few wins under our belt it became clear that there are enough of these to keep a company going for at least a year. And we’ve been fortunate in being able to make that happen.
Max: So what do you look for in a pitch or business plan competition? Kim: Level of competition is the biggest factor. Superior competitors really force us to raise our game when we are pitching. High dollar. And it has to be in our wheelhouse. As a B2B education solution it can be hard for us to compete against a big B2C company.
Max: What advice would you offer to the anyone out there looking to enter in a similar competition? Kim: There are a lot of differing opinions on business plans for startups; some people think you don’t need one at all. I agree that you may not need a 35-pager, but going through the very painstaking process of making an excellent, thorough business plan puts you in a position to answer any question judges might throw at you in competition.