Everyone of us pitches new ideas everyday – many of which are not business related and may range from where to go for brunch to whose family to spend the holidays with (all quite big decisions). So when you think how to nail that company pitch, look no further – you’ve done a thousand quite similar ones before.
Define your goal
First: set your target straight. It’s crucial to know what you expect after your pitch – 99% of the time your goal will be to get a (second) meeting.
Spend time to get to know your audience
Your goal should and will be different according to who your audience is. Preparing prior to a meeting is key. Not everyone has a personal assistant but with technology comes great capabilities!
Try using Accompany or Charlie to get to know who you’ve scheduled the meeting with. If you are pitching at an event, be it a Demo Day or Pitch Event, find out more about the audience. Research is key!
Now that you have a clear understanding of your audience as well as a direct goal, create your pitch deck accordingly. We are all familiar with the outline of a pitch presentation (more or less) and here is a widely used breve version.
Note that you are essentially telling a story and thus want to make sure the audience can follow your train of thought:
- Problem: What is the problem and who is it that “suffers” from this? How is the customer currently dealing with this problem?
- Solution: Now’s the time to talk about how you solve this problem with your product as well as the benefits and outcomes it brings to the customer/business. Are you saving them time or flat out decreasing their various other costs?
- Market: How big is the market you’re playing in and what’s the Total Addressable Market (TAM)? This is always a tough one when you’ve created a disruptive technology. When dissecting this, you can start from how many potential customers are in the addressable market and move up to revenue projections as well as growth potential.
- Competition: Be it legacy competitors or new startups flourishing in the space, there should always be some competition in the market. Be careful to not only address direct competition and talk about alternatives in adjacent spaces. Your differentiation should be the key factor that needs to be highlighted, however, focus on strategies instead of features.
- Customer traction: Even in the early days of launching your business, you need to be able to put together some traction metrics as proof of the opportunity. Revenue, number of customers and pipeline are some obvious choices.
- Business Model: This is all about revenue model, pricing, customer acquisition, marketing and sales, channel strategy, partnerships.
- Team: Who’s on your team and a little bit on their relevant backgrounds.
- Roadmap and plan: This is where you talk about your key milestones, growth projections for the next 12-24 months both in terms of revenue and team. If there are any vertical or geographic expansions, this is a good place to mention them.
- The ASK: This is where you talk about how much money you are raising, when you’re planning to close and if there are any (soft-circled) commitments.
Before finishing up my thoughts on this, I just want to say how important it is to have a clean deck. Once you are comfortable with the outline and nail down what point you want to get across on each slide, you can go ahead to work with a design professional to achieve a handsome looking deck.
After most pitches, if there is any interest from your audience, there will be follow on questions.
This is where the monologue stops and the conversation begins. Knowing your stuff is crucial to closing any deal, whether it’s an investor or a prospective customer.
Paraphrasing a critical point from Andreessen Horowitz post: “Good metrics are about running the business in a way where founders know how and why certain things are working (or not) … and can address or adjust accordingly.”
I cannot underline the importance of knowing your business and your metrics like the back of your hand enough.
In summary, take time to understand your audience, create a story that will influence that very audience and tell the story using a great pitch deck. Know your business and metrics by heart and use the questions that are aimed at you to make sure you get your point across about your vision, strategy and game plan!