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Pitching Perfection: How to Make Your Startup Stand Out

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You have a brilliant idea. A top-notch software developer. The perfect team. But your startup won’t get off the ground until you attract investors. And in order to secure the funding, you need to make your business a reality, you’ll need to be able to successfully pitch it.

Your amazing product, after all, is meaningless if you can’t bring it to fruition. And as you probably know, developing your idea and selling it to an audience are two different skills. So even if you’re a master innovator, you may not know how to market your concept effectively.

Not to fear. These 6 steps will help you know what to say and how to say it so it sticks. 

Research your audience

Who are your prospective investors? Do some research to find out more about their backgrounds and areas of interest. You should learn about the types of businesses and industries they typically back financially. Also, you should try to know their values and mission, and how and when they usually support startups through platforms like Crunchbase. Once you’ve learned about the investor and fund, you can tailor your pitch in a way that will appeal to them.

Identify the problem — and explain how you’ll solve it

Your business should exist to solve a problem — that’s why you conceived your product in the first place. As part of your pitch, you’ll need to explain that problem, as well as how your startup will solve it. That also means you need to explain why your product fills a gap that existing competitors can’t address. In other words, describe what makes it unique and why it’s necessary.

Sound like a job interview? In some ways, pitching your startup is similar. After all, when you’re a candidate for a job, you need to demonstrate to the hiring manager how you’ll help meet their business’s needs. In the same sense, pitching involves proving to an investor that your product will meet a niche audience’s needs.

Tell a story

You’re inspired by your idea. Now, it’s time to inspire your audience. You’re much more likely to capture their attention if you make your pitch compelling, and that means giving it a narrative arc. Explain the history of the idea — did you always think it would be cool if a product existed for X? How did you come up with the idea? 

Telling a story will not only engage your audience, but it will also humanize your pitch, making the investors empathize with you.

Back it up

Of course, you still do need to ground your pitch with data. Present key market research and projected sales figures. You should focus on the numbers that are most salient, as opposed to bogging down your presentation in data that’s not entirely relevant. 

Remember: this is supporting information, and while it’s necessary, it shouldn’t be your entire pitch. It demonstrates that you’ve actually done your research and have facts that show that your idea is viable. But a well-placed statistic is more likely to resonate with an investor than a jumble of numbers.

Show your passion

You love your idea, so show it! A key part of engaging your audience is demonstrating your enthusiasm for your startup. That means smiling, varying and modulating your tone of voice, and using physical gestures to bolster your point. Enthusiasm is contagious, so showing how passionate you are about the product will encourage your investors to share in the joy and believe in you and your business. 

Keep it short and sweet

Your prospective investors are busy. Don’t waste their time by rambling on and on — keep your pitch brief. Ideally, it should be no more than 30-60 seconds. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should talk really, really fast to pack everything in — if you do, you’ll lose your audience — but it does mean you should be as concise as possible and edit your pitch down. Capture your most important points succinctly.

Your pitch must be well-crafted, which takes time and resources to accomplish. These are the most important components, but, of course, you’ll have to do the heavy lifting. These include actually researching the company, combing through your data, developing a compelling story, and editing and refining it. In fact, you should be just as thoughtful about your pitch as you are about your concept. Don’t forget to practice and perfect it, too.