Picture this: a panel of experts, a scrutinizing, fidgety audience, your amazing idea, and the chance to take your startup’s destiny into your own hands. All that stands between this moment and victory is You (and a stopwatch). You have three minutes. All eyes are on you. Palms sweating yet? Heart racing? Chill. Don’t despair! We know that delivering an award-winning pitch is no easy feat, so we called up seasoned pitcher, Bert Boerman, CEO and Co-founder of 2Gears, which recently won Luxembourg FinTech of the Year 2016. After 15 years climbing the corporate ladder at a leading Dutch bank, Bert steered himself onto the startup fast-track. 2Gears is now well on the way to becoming a key industry player with its pioneering investment fund solution, Governance.io. With countless pitches under his belt – several resulting in financing and rapid company growth – we asked Bert for his top five tips for success on stage.
(Featured Image: Bert Boerman / Image Credit: Anna Katina)
Know Your Audience
I always do my research on who will be in front of me. It’s easy to find out who is in the jury or the panel that will assess your pitch. See if you can find out what makes them tick. What do they care about? What do they write about? LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media will give you plenty of ammunition.
Tell a customized story
When you know who you’re speaking to, it is easy to place some subtle messages in your deck. You can embed their names in your product screenshots, or highlight a theme that you know they have recently communicated about. When thinking of the deck as a whole, make sure that each slide contributes to telling a story about your vision and your business. Avoid too many specifics; you won’t have the time.
Present the big picture
Most pitching events have a jury consisting of industry specialists, investors and other people experienced in your field. They want to know where you can take this idea long-term. Make sure you paint a picture of the huge potential and how the future will look with your solution in it. The detailed questions will typically come up during the Q&A, which you will have prepared for as well, of course!
Practice, practice, practice
There is no such thing as an improvised pitch. Not when you only have three to five minutes to deliver it! After you prepare a great-looking pitch deck, practice as much as you can. You want to win this thing, don’t you? Practice in your head, practice in the car, practice in front of the mirror, but most importantly, practice with a stopwatch! When you know exactly when you want to say what, you will no longer get stressed about that ticking clock. And funnily enough, the more you pitch, the more you can still improvise the final delivery.
The audience needs to see your excitement about your product, as it will rub off on them. If they see that you are having fun while presenting, your audience will follow you, and the message will really stick.
This article was first published in SILICON