When you make a pitch, you must do and/or say something unforgettable. Potential investors see countless pitches. You must stand out and inspire confidence. If you are a grower making a pitch video, are you outstanding in a field? If a scientist, in a lab? An irrigation expert, near your pivots? A digital farmer, piloting your drone? A retailer, blending your fresh-made juice? A coder, programming your automated tractors? You need to explain exciting numbers but you can inspire with visuals, too!
If you want to win a competition, please don’t submit an old pitch video. It’s very unlikely to be relevant to the new questions posed. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Do the work.
Many of you know that I wrote a series on pitching a few years ago. Today I want to mention a few more helpful hints for entrepreneurs of all ages and experience levels, shared by Rohit Bhargava, a former judge of several pitch contests (I’ll give you the link to the article below):
# “Tailor the message. Knowing your audience is critical. . .Learn as much as you can about how they think and what they find interesting or don’t . . .”
# “Simplify. Don’t use three slides when one will do. Don’t use words if you can use visuals. . . “
# “Decisions are often based on the strength of your responses to questions that your judges ask… Answer questions as directly as you can. There is nothing worse than someone who seems like they are trying to avoid questions or has no idea how to answer them. No matter how good your pitch is, you can and will lose if you aren’t able to answer questions effectively.”
# “Be concrete. If there is one common mistake that entrepreneurs make over and over again in the Shark Tank, it is being vague and not having concrete details about their businesses. This may come down to your cost of goods sold, or your margin, or your future strategy. Being concrete about what you share shows that you have thought about the details of your business and your industry, and that you understand what you are asking for.”
# “End with a memory cue. Perhaps the toughest fact about a pitch competition is that you are usually up against lots of competitors in a short timeframe. Speaking as a former judge for several, it can become almost impossible to remember the details about everyone who pitched… It could be something physical you do, or a story you tell, or literally ending by telling your audience exactly what the one thing that you want them to remember is…”
Here are a few key questions from the pros to keep in mind when putting together your business plans and pitches. Be able to answer in concrete detail, getting to the point very quickly:
#1. What is your product or service and why is it innovative or unique?
#2. What big problem does it solve, and what is the market opportunity?
#4. What traction does your venture have? (such as app downloads, company website visits, sales?)
#5. What are the main risks or challenges you face? (like regulatory, legal, disruptive technologies)
#6. How does your venture make a positive social impact? (such as job creation, improved livelihoods, no environmental harm, waste reduction, clean energy, water saving, worker health, safety, financial inclusion)
#7. What is your venture’s current financial situation? Projections going forward? Assumptions?
#8. Was your business model designed to achieve scale? How does it work?
#9. What milestones will winning “prize capital” (or raising investor financing) help you achieve?
#10. How will an investor make money if he or she invests in your company?
Now over to you. Be bold, be prepared, and go forth!
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa