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Lessons Learned From Pitching On 50+ Events, All Over The World, For The Past Two Years.

And sitting in the jury. A few times.

Ömer Akyürek
Jul 7, 2017 · 4 min read

It’s 2017 and you probably know, that it’s pretty hard to build and run a startup. What you need to do, on a regular basis, is to attend as many pitch events as possible.

This week I witnessed six (!), some of them had great ideas, startup pitches crash and burn. These are my biggest take aways after pitching in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, London, New York, Berlin, Istanbul and sitting in a jury a few times.

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Phew, Eric Schmidt didn’t realize, that we took the photo on an iPhone after an pitch event in Tel Aviv.

There are some patterns which separate great pitches from the unsuccessful ones. I witnessed how easy and quickly founders closed multiple million dollar rounds. It was heartbreaking to see how close others came to the finish line, but messed it up at the very last end.

So what are the essentials of a great pitch? First and foremost: confidence and know-how are key.

Confidence:

  • I always thought, that I‘m a great speaker and pretty confident in my posture until Susan Lindner recorded my pitch. Guess what my biggest mistake during pitches was? Fast speaking. Sometimes your mind is rushing and you want to keep up with fast speaking, but always imagine, that your grandparents are sitting in the audience and have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. Key lessons: speak slow, loud and repeat the problem, solution, and your company name multiple times. Most importantly, record yourself and try to improve.
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I’m carefully listening to Susan Lidner while sipping an amazing cup of coffee.
  • Always assume, that you will experience technical difficulties at the location. Arrive early and set up everything properly.
  • Know your audience. Are you talking to some students or business people?
  • Keep the presentation short. Ideally max. 10 slides. Remember your job is not to give the audience all information you have. It’s about the most important bits and nuggets. Your pitch should be like a movie teaser. The 1:1 discussions afterwards is the main trailer, which is longer and more detailed, but again don’t spoil too much. The real meeting is where you show your movie! Keep it interesting by giving away as little information as possible.
  • Groom well. I‘m looking at you male founders… a book is judged by its cover. Oh, and please let somebody pitch with experience.

Know-how:

  • You have to know all metrics from MAU, DAU, CAC etc. for the past 90 days. If you don’t remember them, tell that person that you will follow up with her/him shortly and will provide the missing numbers via e-mail.
  • Know. Your. Competition! First of all: your idea isn’t unique and there is tons of competition out there. Don’t be naive to think that you are better. You are not. Your competition has more money, human resources, and users than you. Know them all and try every competing product before you pitch.
  • Show your product in a live demo as quickly as possible.

Ideally, your structure should look like this:

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. Explain the problem.
  3. Explain your solution.
  4. Show the product.
  5. What’s the competition?
  6. Why are you better?
  7. Proof this with traction and customer testimonials.

If you don’t know your competition, don’t have a product, or don’t have traction:

Do Not Pitch!

You‘ll get rejected 99% of the time. The 1% who get funding/positive feedback are founders with proven track records.

Those key lessons helped us to close two financing rounds and I want you to succeed as we did.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Happy pitching!

p.s.: if you need more infos or want me to review your deck, head over to Twitter (info is below) and shoot me a message. Always happy to help 🙌.

Weekly Blog #13: Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @oemerax or hit the button down below. Did you always wanted to install an iOS app to view all your feeds in one place? Download Bynd.

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