In May, I attended “Startup Grind Pitch Night.”, a night dedicated to interactive pitches that help entrepreneurs showcase their companies to potential customers and investors. For more information on Startup Grind Toronto Pitch Night, visit: www.startupgrind.com.
At the event, 9 of Toronto’s best startups pitched their company to a panel of 3 judges and an audience of over 50 people for approximately 45 minutes. Pitch Night is as much about the inspiration for the audience as it is about the innovation behind the ideas. From a company that monitors health from your bedsheets, to an app that puts a truck in your pocket, here are the 3 pitches that I believe were the best of the night:
3. Fetch It! – (The App That Puts A Truck In Your Pocket)
Matthew Karabela, CEO
Fetch It connects you with a pickup, van or truck owner and within moments of their acceptance of the job, you receive the most up-to-date notifications on who is driving, what car they are driving and their estimated arrival time.
2. Props Athletics – Lauren Siegal, Founder
Lauren Siegal has created a product that places an emphasis on the efficiency of your workout routine. The glove uses Coolmax yarn to wipe away sweat, as well as signature fingerprint silicon to provide you with a better grip.
1. Studio 1 Labs – Edward Shim, Co-CEO
Edward and his team use fabric sensor technology in healthcare and human interaction, emergency triage, retail, environmental scanning and data analysis. Edward Shim ended up winning Pitch Night and the $2,000 grand prize.
How to Pitch with an Edge
And now, to help you prepare a better pitch, either for an event like Pitch Night, or a small office meeting, here are 6 tips from Blade Creative Branding!
1. Understand Your Business – Fast!
Throughout Pitch Night, I noticed some pitchers who had very little confidence in discussing certain aspects of their business. One judge asked a question about the feasibility of an idea. However, he couldn’t provide a detailed answer and pointed out that it would be a question that his accountant (who was not in attendance) would normally answer.
Not knowing every aspect to your business creates a crutch to the entirety of your pitch. Your audience has already invested their time in getting to know you. Why break that relationship with someone that they will be hearing for only a couple of minutes? You are the visionary and that means every detail must tie back into you!
It’s why setting-up a meeting with everyone involved in your business is so important. Encourage them to make contributions to your presentation and ask them to help you prepare a Q&A strategy before you pitch.
FASTBALL: Make quick strides with your team at learning more about not only your business, but about your industry every day at a very fast rate.
2. Don’t Let the Fear of Numbers Sink Your Presentation
The importance of setting a realistic budget that connects to a launch timeline is crucial to the success of your brand. You may have the most revolutionary product in the world, but if you don’t have the numbers to back it up, it’s all just a pipe dream.
Many people often struggle with presenting the numbers. While it’s exciting to build up the unveiling of your product, the financial element can often be the boring element to a presentation. But it doesn’t have to be! If your brand has achieved success over the past year, (which it should be if you’re pitching), the best way to showcase that success is through charts and graphs. Whether it’s a bar graph, a pie chart or, a pictograph, display those numbers in a visual format that works best for you. It’s easier on the eyes for both you and your audience and it will visually demonstrate your success – allowing you to feel good about your achievements.
SINKER: Don’t let the fear of numbers sink your presentation into oblivion.
3. Throw Your Audience a Curveball
Edward Shim from Studio 1 Labs had the audience laughing from the very beginning of his presentation. He stated: “A little while back I was in the hospital for two months with a chest injury. Rather than being dead, it took me about a year and a half of recovery. So during that time of recovery I thought – What’s the biggest challenge I can do to get back into physical shape? The most logical thing was – join the army. But the most important thing I learned was the process for emergency response.” Everyone seemed intrigued to hear what Edward would say next after starting off his presentation with such dark humour. It not only created an effective opening. It created a seamless transition that established energy before he began speaking about his idea.
CURVEBALL: Throw your audience a curveball every once in awhile. If humour isn’t part of your personal brand, ask questions or use insights in the early stages of your presentation to establish curiosity. The entirety of your presentation will benefit from it.
4. Change It Up! Use a Combination of Text, Photos and Video
A presentation with only text is boring, while a presentation with only photos and videos can come across as lazy, and lacking information. Striking a good balance between the two will give your presentation the flow it needs to help you succeed. It’s human nature to have a short attention span, which is why a change in pace and structure throughout your presentation will go a long way in keeping everyone interested in what you have to say. It also allows you to convey important information in different ways, especially since different parts of your presentation such as introducing the idea, demonstrating the idea and connecting the financial element with the idea will all need to be presented differently.
Pitch Night featured presentations with many different styles, but the three that I mentioned earlier all had a good mix.
CHANGE-UP: Change-up your presentation from time-to-time. It allows you to change the pace between text, photos and videos to keep your audience intrigued to hear more from you.
5. Slide In Relatable Examples
Relatable examples encourage the audience to converse about your topic, while generating emotion. No one wants to hear a presentation with very little relatable material because it’s not memorable. For example, if you’re pitching a dating app and you’ve had bad experiences with the functionality of other apps, let the audience know. Chances are, there will be some people who have had the same experience, allowing you to develop an emotional connection with your audience.
SLIDER: If the “serious aspects” of your presentation such as feasibility and your core concept are in place, you should easily be able to slide in relatable examples throughout your pitch.
6. Cut the Umms
Pitchers often forget that their voice is one of the most important elements to their presentation. Your idea isn’t your voice – it speaks through your voice. You may not be able to completely change the tone of your voice while you present, but you can alter what comes from it through your delivery. When people hear a pitch that comes across as genuine, calm and collected, you demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and you know how to talk about it. This is one of the reasons why Edward from Studio 1 Labs had the winning pitch. By eliminating the use of “Umm” “Uhh” and “Like”, your pitch will stand-out and benefit immensely.
CUTTER: Simply Cut the Filler! It’s unprofessional and disrupts the flow of your pitch.
If you would like to share any other helpful pitching tips, feel free to post them in the comments section below!