The 36-Second Story that Won DreamPitch
How to start your Pitch with Loop & Tie’s $250K winning strategy
Last week, three startup finalists pitched a panel of celebrity judges at #DreamPitch 2017. Each had 5 minutes to make their case.
Meanwhile, I was paring down Stick’s pitch from 10 minutes to 5. No small task. Maybe studying the #DreamPitch winning approach would help?
But only one minute into Sara Rodell’s pitch, I paused the playback. Rewind.
I watched it again. Rewind. Again.
My goal had been to learn from the 5-minute-format. But less than a minute in, I realized that it hadn’t taken her the full 5 minutes to convince me…
It took her 36 seconds.
Here’s how she did it.
Starting Strong with your 1-Sentence Story
Unlike so many startup pitchers, Sara didn’t start with shock (Did you know that X% …) or force engagement (Raise your hand if you’ve ever___).
Instead, she started with purpose — her company’s story, distilled into a single sentence:
“We’ve designed a gift choice platform that allows companies to treat their customers to choices of unique gifts, all sourced from makers around the US.”
What do you do? We’ve designed a gift choice platform.
Why do you do it? [to] allow companies to treat their customer to choices of unique gifts.
How do you do it? [by] sourc[ing] from makers around the US.
Within the first ten seconds, we know what they do, why they do it, and how they got there. That’s story.
And this story hinges on the one core value Loop & Tie provides: choice.
Your first sentence is your most important real estate. Use it to tell that story:
We make [Product/Service], that enables [Customers] to access [Value], made possible by [Business Model].
From Value to Volume
Once you’ve established the value, you can tell us why it matters. And in VC land, there’s only one way to do that: Volume.
Unlike a customer pitch, an investor pitch’s success hinges on Volume. Why?
Without getting into the math, know that 2–3x returns aren’t good enough for VCs. Because most startups fail, the winners have to provide 10x returns — at least — to make up for the rest of the portfolio. Go big or go home.
If Sara’s first 10 seconds establish the value, then her next 26 seconds make the case for volume, in three sentences. Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Provide Proof your Solution Works
“Over 600 businesses have treated 56,000 clients and employees to their choice of gift through our platform, representing $2 Million in Sales.”
Number of clients + Number of beneficiaries + Revenue numbers = This isn’t an idea, this is a company. I’m listening.
2. Share the Burden of the Problem
“We started Loop & Tie because corporate gifting is dated; It’s stuck in the land of branded coffee mugs and gift baskets and a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Sure “corporate gifting” may not be part of your everyday, but I’d bet you’ve got a branded coffee mug in your kitchen cabinet— or, more likely, stashed in a storage closet somewhere.
We know this problem. But is it a big enough one?
3. Validate with Volume
“84% of all US businesses are running at least one gifting program and they’re spending $90 Billion per year on these programs.”
90 Billion?! That’s a lot of coffee mugs. Doesn’t seem so trivial now, does it?
Not only do I understand this problem, but now I take it seriously.
All in 36 Seconds.
In the four minutes following, Sara proceeds to dive into each element in more detail:
And a live demo, driven by 1) value created for a real customer, and 2) cost efficiencies achieved for a real customer:
But with an opening like that, the rest of Sara’s job was easy. The demo basically ran itself.
At that point, she’d already hooked us.
Congratulations to Sara and the rest of the Loop & Tie team. Thanks for showing us how it’s done.
About the Author: Alli McKee helps companies develop their strategic messaging and brings it to life with visual design. After years creating strategic stories as a consultant at Bain & Company and designing visually at IDEO.org and in art, she’s working with B2B sales and marketing organizations to help them win more business. Through strategy, story, and design, her work enables companies to make their ideas sell — and stick.
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