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Notes from the 'Pitch and Polish' Workshop from MIT's Entrepreneurship Forum

The following are my takeaways from the pitch and polish workshop held a few weeks ago.

Making The Elevator Speech

  • Who are you? Are you a crank or are you for real?
  • What is the industry? What is the problem or pain?
  • Identify a category
  • Connect with the person in some way. Get a referral if the person says 'no'.
  • What is the market size? Get a dollar figure.
  • Hint at the value proposition.
  • Be focused. Mention the market you are going after.
  • "Cool product" is the 'Kiss of death'.
  • If you have an exclusive licence, then and only then mention it.
  • Give an instant picture of the product.
  • Hint on its working.
  • Sizing the competition

The worst answer "No other company is doing ..."

Second worst: "30 others are doing the same thing..."

The right answer:

"Several are doing it, but ours is three times faster..."

  • Market Size : Anything less than 1/2 a billion is usually bad.
  • Most people are unwilling to say 'No'. Expect a lot of 'Maybes'.
  • Passion is a huge part of your pitch.
  • Its about Money: Business value, competitive advantage and market size.
  • "A warm introduction is better than a cold call"
  • Be kind to your network
  • Dont get into details unless you have a clue as to whether the person undestands your product.
  • Use touch points: Contacts in the real world, people you can call, how you have guaged the market.
  • Tell her, what business you are in.
  • Build credibility: "One person in our team..."
  • Give the person a taxonomy of the business space." This market is broken into..."
  • Do not promise the impossible.
  • Be clear as to what the business does.
  • Who is the target customer?
  • Don't identify yourself in a category stuffed with startups.
  • Make eye contact.-Guage your audience.
  • Throw in a story/anecdote to engage your audience. The VC must be able to repeat parts of your pitch.
  • Consumer products usually don't have an economic value proposition.
  • How do you deal with the gatekeeper? Talk about interoperability challenges if applicable.
  • Be clear about your pricing model.
  • Tell them why Google can't buy you.
  • Two months to search for funding is a rule of thumb. Try to make the pitch real-life expandable. You must be able to flip the deck and extend beyond 10 months.
  • Remember, you must "throw in as many hooks, as if harpooning a whale".
  • Try to minimise the number of open issues.
  • Get away from areas littered with dead bodies. Figure out why they died. Learn about the incumbents and their failures.
  • Next, talk about why you are different in the eco-system.
  • Remember, there are no new ideas. They have all existed before in some form.
  • Try to convince the person that the world has changed.
  • Clue the person on the following:

How are you solving the problem?

Your entry strategy into the market. How will you get there?

  • Mention money raised if any.
  • Get your assets out early in your pitch.
  • Lead with imagery
  • Get a natural flow: What points do you need expressed? What is expandable? Shirnkable?
  • Value creation and value capture.
  • Remember, life is not fair.
  • Show poise, confidence and maturity
  • Are you a geek or a business person? Where do you fit in your team?
  • It it a product or service? hardware or software?
  • Watch your pronouns: I, we they.
  • What are they missing?

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