The Scottish craft beer company BrewDog is probably the most famous reject of the entrepreneur investment TV show Dragons’ Den. In 2009 the programme’s producers decided that the company’s co-founders didn’t deserve the opportunity to pitch to the five potential investors for £100,000 in return for a 20% stake in the company.
That investment would now be worth around £400 million.
A few years later in 2017, the impressive coffee brewing gadget ‘The Oomph’ scraped through with a last-ditch offer from one investor for three times the proposed equity stake after a stuttering performance by creator Matthew Deasy.
The Oomph went on to sell over 50,000 units worldwide and has recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to develop an improved new version of the portable coffee maker.
Both of these examples illustrate, to different degrees, the importance of a compelling pitch.
Pitching may appear more art than science, but the secret to delivering a powerful pitch is based on a standard formula. Of course, delivery is important and even a great pitch can be ruined by poor execution.
Good delivery usually follows painstaking preparation. Even if you’re a natural in front of an audience, if you don’t know your facts and figures you’re likely to be exposed. A useful rule of thumb is that preparation time should be at least 10 times the length of the pitch.
Keep the pitch short. This will help you stick to your key messages and keep the audience engaged. If using slides or notes, make sure that the amount of material matches the length of the pitch - rushing through lots of facts and figures will lose your audience.
Passion and enthusiasm for your product are important but won’t compensate for a lack of content and structure. A pitch should answer the following questions:
Problem - what problem does your product (or service) solve?
Solution - how will your product solve the problem?
Product features - what’s special about your product that makes it a great solution for the problem?
Market - how big is the market opportunity? What other examples are there of similar products in the market?
Business and financial model - how will you make and distribute your product to your customer and what revenue, costs and profit will this generate?
Your team - who are the people behind the product and how are they qualified to deliver it successfully?
The web is awash with blogs on content and creation for a killer pitch. These articles from Hubspot and Piktochart are informative. For a good overview, the short book ‘Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches’ provides a clear and succinct summary of pitching strategies and tactics.