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How to pitch a business case – learn from these champions: 10 videos – 20 tips

We can work for months with corporates on an innovative business case but all that work is worth nothing if presented poorly. Therefore we spend quite some time on the design and presentation format of the final business pitch. It’s always a lot of work but fortunately for us the internet is packed with inspiring examples!

Let’s start with a concrete example by Josh Lite (my absolute favorite business pitch by the way).

This 2 minutes elevator pitch is one of the most effective presentations I’ve ever seen. Why does this work:

Numbers, numbers, numbers!

Use figures. It makes you more credible. In less than 120 seconds Josh used over 20 different numbers. That is one figure every 6 seconds! Don’t talk about high margins or your clients. No. Be concrete: 30ct profit per cup, 80% signups,…

Talk about money.

Sounds obvious but quite often I have people in our startup workshops who even forget to refer to revenue figures or profits. They talk about their product, the team and so on but euros appear to be just little extras to some. Strange but true. In the clip above Josh talked about “a million dollar of profits… every. single. month.” -Bang-

Add Credibility

Basically you should give an answer to the question: “Why should I, as an investor, believe you?” This can be done in different ways but two things that are “a Must”. Firstly, make sure that you talk about your first sales or how clients are ‘almost ready’ to make their first purchases. Secondly, refer to big brands wherever possible. Josh did both.

Slides are only extra support

Even without a slide deck your story should stand like a rock. There is only one way to do this and that is – practise, practise, practise. Josh had no slides at all and his story was more convincing than 90% of the startup pitches I have ever seen.

Call to action

What do you expect from your audience? Katie makes it very clear at second 45: “100K investment for 25% stake in equity.” Every presentation is different. Never use a standard story but tailor your approach to your audience. If you expect a decision afterwards, tell them.

Share your unfair competitive advantage

The Dragons Den pitch of Magic Whiteboard has a great example. Their product is great but their business is even more promising. At min 4 you learn why: “We’ve secured the sole and exclusive selling right…”

What will you do with the investment?

No, don’t tell your panel investor that you’ll buy bread and butter with their funds. Many ‘entrepreneurs’ fail at this basic rule. You don’t pitch for a wage. In this pitch they need funds for Sales. This makes sense. Investors will only inject money in things that will let the business grow. Don’t forget to explain how their money will be used. Invest in marketing? A working prototype? IP rights?

AirBnb Slide deck (watch and learn)

Use this structure: Problem – Solution – Value

Airbnb, one of the hottest startups in town, shows how to convince a panel. Look at their first 3 slides. Always start with the problem that you are going to solve for your client. Next slide presents the solution followed by how you plan to make money. By this time you should have explained what the value is of solving this problem and you have the key – your product is the solution to unlock this potential. Note: It doesn’t say to start with a 10 min introduction of your team, your advisory board, your parents and the cat of your uncle.

Add key metrics of your business model

On slide 7 Airbnb adds more details to their revenue model by showing 3 key financial metrics: Market size + average fee per user + total revenue. Explain in a simple format on which business assumptions your story is based on.

Market adoption & traction

Show some proof that your business idea works. Are users willing to pay? Are there any signups already? On slide 8 Airbnb shares some first numbers that show how they are building their market.

Connect with your audience

In the above video Kasper starts his pitch with 2 simple questions to frame the problem he will solve with Hoist. By asking one or two relevant questions you can pull your audience into your story. But choose your questions wisely. Already several times I experienced how CEO/founder undermined his whole story by a stupid and irrelevant question ‘to break the ice’ and do something interactive.

The Elevator Pitch: Foodspotting | Soraya Darabi from L2 Think Tank on Vimeo.

Add metaphors and other reference points

In the pitch above Foodspotting is called “The Flickr for Food” what makes it very easy for people to understand the basic concept of this startup. Try to find relevant references to well-known concepts for your audience.

Your product from a customer perspective

This Loopt demo at the Apple WDC conference shows how. If you plan to show a demo make sure that you talk about the experience for the customer. Don’t talk about every single feature. Focus on those things that will create the “Waw” moment. What makes it unique? Don’t demo how an admin can edit posts or how the export to PDF function works. A pitch is not the moment to thank every software engineer in your team for the work they have done.

Talk about your own experience

If possible talk about how you experienced the problem you’re now trying to solve. At minute 9 Alex starts his pitch and explains how experienced all the problems in the music industry first hand. It adds credibility and it will help to create a more emotional connection with the people you’re talking to. (Great talk by Techstars by the way)

Make people believe

Drew Houston (Dropbox) starts his pitch in 2008 with a vision. “How the world will look like in 5 years from now.” He links his story to Minority Report & Tom Cruise. An inspiring benchmark that will stick with the tech-audience he’s talking to. We’re 5 year down the road and I can say they’ve lived up their promise!

Show ambition & growth potential to investors

On the first slide already Rand of Seamoz shares his vision to become “Seattle’s next $1 Billion company”. 2 slides further on he show how. Example: Profit margins of +80% and so on. Although the visuals look rather cheap the content itself is very convincing! Great slide deck to learn from.

Other remarkable examples:

  • The 2 women behind Birchbox explain their business in 2 min.
  • Omar Hamoui pitches AdMob(acquired by Google for $750M)
  • The slide deckthat made Cafepress used during a succesful 8-digit VP pitch. They focused on the things that failed and what they learned from it. Inspiring!
  • A sample of the business plan of Foursquare summarised in this presentation
  • How Facebook presented their business casein 2004.
  • The investor presentationof in 2007
  • Instead of Video demos or Online slides many startups are looking into interactive one-pagers. Piccsy has a great example at personally like the infographic of their ‘Problem’.

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Ali G. shows the world how to pitch

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