Pitch Perfect

October is Innovation Month at University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship. As part of the fun, we are holding an informal Pitch Tank session on Thursday 28th October inviting staff and student entrepreneurs to step up and practice pitching their big idea to a panel of our ThincLab Canterbury advisors. So now is the perfect time to delve into what investors look for and what comprises the art of the perfect pitch.

Aswathi Soni FFA Accelerator Pitch

There are certainly some fundamentals that every founder needs to get right when developing a pitch. However each situation has to be assessed on its merits. Is it a fun educational event pitch such as at a Startup Weekend or is your pitch tailored to a major investor responsible for millions of dollars of other people’s money? The tone and content may differ depending on the situation and who’s in the room. Most importantly be sure to thoroughly research your audience and their professional interests beforehand.

Without becoming too prescriptive, there are however a few simple guidelines that inform an impactful investment presentation. ThincLab Canterbury advisor and angel investor Geoff Brash recommends keeping pitches to five minutes or less because the intention is more to garner interest for a meeting, rather than explaining your business proposition in great detail. He suggests using the following core topic headings to build a storyboard.

  • Intro
  • Customer
  • Problem
  • Product Demo
  • Business Model
  • Market Size
  • Traction
  • Path To Market
  • Team
  • The Ask – What level of investment.
  • How Will The Funds Be Spent?
  • Summary & How to Contact

Nick Crocker from Blackbird Ventures spoke to the Territory 3 community recently and shared a few tips for making a pithy pitch. Be good at story-telling and take listeners on a journey, says Crocker. Don’t be a bore. Investors have to sit through a lot of pitches. Twelve slides is usually more than enough. If you do have more, figure out what is superfluous. Also, ensure that you showcase the unique talents of your team early in the pitch. This is part of your advantage over other similar companies. Most importantly, clearly articulate the problem you are solving and why customers will pay you for this.

Explain what stage the company has attained. Idea stage? MVP with early customers? Growth? Real traction maps to actual paying customers, not numbers of social media followers or how much capital was raised previously. If you are intending to mention revenue forecasts, limit it to 24 months. Beyond that is fanciful and your audience knows it! A better approach is to outline how you plan to use any fresh capital to get your company to the next revenue milestone. It’s not essential to outline your future acquisition predictions at the first outing explains Nick Crocker. Smart investors will quickly see where these opportunities lie. In any event, the playing field is likely to evolve considerably before you get to that point.

Creating and delivering the perfect pitch is partly science and partly art. Your pitch content will almost certainly evolve over time. Thoughtful audiences will offer feedback that you can incorporate to improve your pitch, even if it’s not the right investment for them. Pitch Tank is the perfect opportunity to practice your pitch in a low stress setting and get feedback to help you improve.

If you are a staff or student entrepreneur and would like expert feedback on your business idea, reach out to join this event through our ThincLab Canterbury contact page.