Making a Pitch, That Delivers!
The pitch has to establish the market penetration and growth potential that your solution can deliver.
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In the current attention-deficit times, the importance of a right pitch – be it to your potential investor, clients or even lovers – has become even more relevant. And no matter how much content you may want to put in your pitch, if it fails to hold attention for more than first few minutes, you are anyways in long drag!
Having seen hundreds of pitches during last few years and having worked to develop my own pitches – both to get investors’ money as well as funds from clients and corporates – I would love to share some of my insights into developing effective pitches and the core essentials that a pitch can’t afford to miss!
Key Attributes that a Pitch should communicate:
1. Practicality: Yes, all of us may have audacious dreams to achieve, but we must not forget the practicality that is required to achieve them – and this need to be communicated as part of the pitch. So be it in terms of the steps that we are going to take; leveraging the available resources; step wise plans to conquer the world. It also needs to clearly talk about the unique strength that our solution might be able to build – which would thus help to put us on the expected market leadership path.
2. Business Case: Everyone is keen to learn what’s in it for them. So ensure that your pitch, within very first few minutes, is able to establish a clear business case and advantages – be it terms of revenue opportunity, technological leadership and market traction. Do establish the ‘real need’ of your solution – and hence its long term business sustainability.
3. Penetration & Growth Potential: The pitch has to establish the market penetration and growth potential that your solution can deliver. We’re talking some numbers here – backed by practical rationale.
4. Innovation: So what’s that makes you different from other potential ‘me-too’s that may be existing in your business? While investors love the word ‘IP’ – but not all innovations may be so disruptive, and its OK – as long as you have something that can build a sustainable entry barrier and give you that lead. The old age adage of ‘First Mover Advantage’ is losing its relevance now and investors are looking for follow-on players, who can shake things up!
5. Financial Feasibility: While it is often said that your financial projections may not be help upto when it comes to investment decision – but what matters is the feasibility behind these projections. So anything which shows lack of feasibility – for e.g. sudden growth spurt after first few months – might not be taken kindly.
6. Execution: Your pitch needs to demonstrate your capability to execute. It could come from your team previous experiences, or the traction that you may have already have had build.
7. Exit Ease: While there are multiple opinions on this, but yes, investors do look out for ease of exit that your business may have – since that is when that they will get the returns that they are investing for. While they don’t expect you to have a clear exit route at this stage – but they could judge the same depending on potential domain that you are operating in and growth that your business may witness.
What can go wrong in a Pitch?
1. Me-Too Idea with no clear differentiation: We all have witnessed the so-called startup winters – and today everyone has learnt the hard way not to keep investing in me-too ideas, if there is no clear differentiation or untapped market potential there. So even if you are working in an area which may have strong competition and similar players – you really need to establish what is it that will make you win the market – and yes, playing on price may not be the answer.
2. Incorrect Market Sizing: Even now, most of us come out with incorrect ways of determining the potential market sizes. The size of mobile phone subscribers may not be the size of your mobile app!
3. Aggressive forecasts: Again related to incorrect market sizing, comes the challenge of making aggressive forecasts. We need to consider time a market may take to warm up to our ideas or the time that we may need to provision for pivoting, post the first sales.
4. Lack of execution capability: Once again, the capability of execution can’t be overemphasized – and can be a critical deal maker or breaker.
5. Poor looking presentation: So leaving the content aside – its equally important to ensure that all content is presented in the right way – ensuring right flow of thoughts and well placed ideas. I’ve personally noticed that while many entrepreneurs may be strong on ideas – they fail to excite the listeners just because their presentation skills are not adequate enough.
6. Investor Appetite: Finally, not all investors may be looking at what you are offering. So while you do research on what needs to go in your pitch, it is equally important to do your research on what are the best kind of investors that would be interested in your domains or business scale.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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