So you have a problem. You realize that this isn’t just a problem you have, but many of your peers also have this problem. You have an aha moment where you decide to solve this problem by coming up with an idea for an app. You think that this app can change the world while making it a better place. You lose sleep…and I don’t mean some sleep. You lose a whole lot of sleep doing market research, checking out your competition, how you can differentiate yourself, how you would market said idea and the like. You realize, however, that you cannot do this on your own. You discreetly share your vision with one, two then three persons. They absolutely love it. Congratulations, you’ve got your team.
Now comes the hard part. Your app isn’t built. Yes you have a team but no money to pay anyone just yet. You’re still new to this startup life so you have no idea of how equity and shares work so you decide to creep before you walk. You come upon a startup competition where you can pitch your idea for a chance to win some seed funding.
Here’s where I bring this all into context. This was my experience. The app? A travel app named Wanderscape that connects travelers to authentic, immersive experiences by locals , and the competition, WTM Fresh at the World Travel Market, London in 2013.
I was used to presentations so I figured I’d put together some slides and that should get the job done. Wrong. I hadn’t accounted for the fact that this was the first time that I was sharing this idea with people who were actually movers and shakers in the industry I was seeking to enter.
Bring on the nerves! A dry mouth, shaky voice, not to mention hands is all I could manage totally messing up the talking points I had so meticulously planned. Not the mention, those judges went in asking questions that only then, I realized I had not adequately prepared for. Looking on at other pitches it was evident there was a lot I had taken for granted.
Fast forward two years and there I was again pitching our app Wanderscape, now built and ready to launch to market, only this time I was ready! We had put together an air-tight pitch deck outlining all the aspect of our business that we were sure the judges would be interested in. So ready in fact that we won the PitchIt Caribbean Challenge in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Any takeaways you ask? Why yes!
Pitching your business, though it can seem a trivial task to the passion-filled entrepreneur, is an art. It starts with you, the person pitching the startup.
Those sleepless nights, that unrelenting vision…that passion, is the foundation for the perfect pitch. Match that passion with practice and you’re well on your way!
It is often said that an investor invests in people. This is very much the case. In our case, me being CEO, I had the task of being likeable and passionate enough to peak the interest of the judges/ investors.
To build upon this passion however there were some key elements that I believe attributed to our success as follows:
Define The Problem
It is important to define a real problem and show just how your product solves it in your market.
Show Your Market
Covering the size of your market shows that you did the necessary market research and have properly identified your target audience.
Know The Competition
If you have no competition there’s no market for your idea, which translates into investors not seeing a need for the solution you define. It is also important to emphatically show your competitive advantage.
Show The Numbers
Shed some light on how you plan on earning revenue. This is something that investors look at to measure financial credibility.
Show What’s In It For Them
Be clear in how much funding you’re asking for and the amount of equity you’re willing to path with. Investors look at this to quickly determine the valuation you’ve placed on your startup. Be sure to come to a valuation that matches the stage of your startup and your market readiness. It is also crucial to investors that you clearly state how you would be spending said funding.
Show The Meat
Last but not least, show that your startup has the competence to get the job done. As noted before, investors invest in people first.
It is often said that success is a journey and not a destination. Pitching is just one of those things that you have to master along that journey. The pitch deck is an indispensable tool in the arsenal of a ready entrepreneur. Along your journey, refine, refine, refine and ensure that as much as you’re following your talking points, you show through.
At the end of the day, that passion is what will take your idea from ideation stage to market readiness, growth and ultimate success.