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How to Pitch Your Startup Idea: 8 Things You Need to Know

by Nicolas Jacobeus, on 2 October 2020

As a startup founder, you have to pitch your idea to everyone from potential partners, employees, customers, and, of course, investors—and it can be nerve-wracking.

Below, we’ll discuss eight strategies to guide you as you prepare your pitch. We’ll also point you toward resources to help you figure out exactly how to pitch your startup idea.

1. Stick to simple

If your pitch is rambling and complex, you’ll lose your audience before you get to the good stuff. You need to grab their attention up front so they don't feel like you're wasting their time.

Determine which information is critical and build your pitch around the key points. Do practice runs and time yourself to see how long your pitch takes from start to finish.

Resource: As an exercise, try drilling down your pitch to one sentence using the one-sentence pitch "startup madlibs" format.

2. Choose the right length

The shortest pitch isn’t always best. You should choose the best length for your pitch.

To hit that sweet spot, it’s important to practice, practice, practice (recruit a test audience for this like a friend, colleague, or spouse). Make sure your pitch is as long as it needs to be to communicate your message effectively—whether that’s five minutes or 20.

There is something to be said for the fast pitch, however. According to security technology entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, many pitches get under two minutes to succeed or fail.

Resource: To see some winning pitches, check out these videos of winners from the Founder Institute's Founder Showcase.

3. Tell a story

Data and charts might explain your pitch in a factually accurate way, but humanizing your pitch by using storytelling techniques helps your audience connect with you on a personal level.

Check out this list of companies that do a great job tapping into human emotion to drive sales, build loyalty, and inspire their target demographic.

Resource: A lot of startup pitching advice focuses on pitch decks. The good news is you can still use a pitch deck as you tell a story using a resource like Easy to Pitch.

4. Solve a problem

When you prepare your pitch, think about the problem your product or service is solving and how it does it better, cheaper, or more efficiently than anyone else. Incorporate this into your pitch for maximum impact.

Resource: Your problem-solving pitch will pack a lot more punch if you can back it up with data from market research. Gather research and feedback online using Ask Your Target Market, which gives you access to more than 60 million respondents around the globe.

5. Know your data

Even as you share your idea in the form of a story, you should still know every data point, bar graph, and cost breakdown by heart. If an investor asks about the numbers, you have to be prepared to answer on the spot.

Resource: Here’s a startup valuation calculator to help you figure out how much your idea, service, or product is worth.

6. Create a compelling pitch deck

If you want to make a good impression, you’ll probably need a pitch deck. This is 10 to 20 slides that help you deliver your idea in a visual way. According to presentation company Slidebean, a good pitch deck should include (at a minimum):

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Market size
  • Business model
  • Underlying magic
  • Competition
  • Better/different
  • Marketing plan
  • Team
  • Traction/milestones

Your pitch may need additional slides depending on your product, idea, or service. The key is to create the basics and build around them.

Resource: Want to see how the pros pitch? Here are 30 original pitch decks from some of the most successful startups in the world.

7. Tailor your pitch for your audience

What appeals to an investor might not be very persuasive to a potential partner or an employee you’d like to bring on board.

This means you’ll need to think about how to pitch your startup idea to different audiences and tailor your pitch accordingly. Your core message can be the same, but you should be willing to make tweaks and adjustments for each audience.

Resource: Developing a winning pitch deck can be expensive. Developing several of them can stretch your budget beyond its limits. Canva offers free and paid graphic design tools anyone can use, including professional-looking, customizable pitch deck templates.

8. Explain why you're better

Here is where it's okay to brag a little. Tell your audience why you stand out among the competition. Why should they choose you over another company?

Resource: Peggy Klaus, author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, offers up a questionnaire to help you talk about your accomplishments without making people tune out.

Let us help your startup start up

Got an idea for a new business? Belighted can help. From development to product generation to startup formation, we have the team and tools to take you from idea to launch. Schedule your call today to get a 20-minute assessment.

Topics:      The Startup Idea

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