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Pitching in Silicon Valley
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Pitching in Silicon Valley

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  • Alright everyone.. by now we have completed the most challenging stages in the process and you are soon ready to pitch your idea to the jury. But before you do so we have a few good insights we would like to share with you about how to present your idea to the jury this afternoon. This stage is called PITCH and we will now talk a bit about the art of pitching.
  • Who knows what an elevator pitch is?The term elevator pitch refers to the situation when you meet your boss at the bottom level of your office building and you have the time span during the elevator ride to the top floor, to convince him or her that you have a great idea. As you can imagine you need to be extremely well prepared to be able to deliver a short, sweet and simple pitch in those few minutes.
  • It might sound tough but reality is that innovators and entrepreneurs are constantly pitching, we have to pitch to investors to get funded, to new partners to build good relationships, to customers so they buy our products, and to future employees so they want to work with us…so you better learn this skill quickly if we you to be successful.
  • Networking is an art, and something of a balancing act. Just like the recent article I wrote on The Art of Negotiation , this is something people are often intimidated by but have to deal with it all the time. There are a few key keys to being a strong networker, and it really comes down to knowing how to balance the conversation between business and non-business topics.As an entrepreneur with a corporate background, I've had the opportunity to learn from many different types of people: CEO's and C-level executives, directors, managers, legal folks, engineers, affiliates, marketers, entrepreneurs, etc.Certain things are consistent across the board, while others are not. There tend to be more formalities and rules in the corporate, while entrepreneurs/startups tend to be too casual at times.As a rule of thumb, try to maintain a more professional tone, but make sure you display your personality. At the end of the day, we are doing business with people, and we would much prefer to do business with people we like.7 Biggest Mistakes People Make While Networking: 1) Name DroppingIf they didn't ask you who you know or who you've worked with in the past--don't mention any names. This "hollywood" style networking is useless, and makes you look desperate for credibility. If you have actually worked with anyone they know, or you know the same people, don't worry. They will hear from others or find out on their own. This is probably the biggest mistake many small businesses and entrepreneurs make.2) Talking Too MuchAim for at least 75% of the talking to be done by the other person. Yes, this means you'll have to ask really good, interesting questions.If the conversation stalls, ask more questions, all while maintaining a genuine interest to learn about them and their business. This is where you will uncover their needs, wants, and desires; which is very important.3) Talking About Yourself Without Being AskedIf they didn't ask you: what you do, why you do it, how many customers you have, how many Facebook fans you have, how long you've been doing it, why you do it, how many dogs you have, where you went to school, etc. etc. etc. -- then do not start talking about it. Yes, look for ways to find things in common with the person, but don't start listing off all these amazing things about yourself if that person didn't ask you. If they're asking you a question, it's because they're interested and that is when you should tell them.4) Not Knowing When To End The ConversationOh boy, this is when things get awkward. This all comes down to understanding body language, and social cues. If you are having an incredibly riveting conversation, then by all means keep it going!But, if the person you're chatting with is looking for an out, give it to them. I know, that sounds a bit odd, but they will respect you for it. Most people want to meet and greet as many people as possible when they're networking. So have a quality conversation, don't look for quantity of time. When you feel it's ending, be the one to say thank you and goodbye. Tell them you enjoyed the conversation and would love to keep in touch.5) Showing OffThis is related to name-dropping, but on a broader level. Don't inflate who you are or what you've done. Be accurate in your accomplishments and achievements. Being humble goes a long way when you first meet someone. Let other people speak of your successes, you will be so much more respected if you can earn praise from others. Most people can't stand doing business with big egos, so leave yours at the door. 6) Asking For a Follow Up When It's Not DeservedThis is a tough one, but if you haven't earned the right to follow up or ask for an email, phone number, or Skype, then don't. Sometimes, you'll have to speak with someone multiple times before it's appropriate to follow up. If the person has offered to help you, or is interested in connecting, then definitely ask for a card or way to contact them. Otherwise, try again. 7) Being Too Professional Or Too UnprofessionalRemember, you are networking. Most likely, there's a drink in your hand and people have started to loosen up a bit. That doesn't mean you should talk to this person like they are your old fraternity brother or sorority sister. Get comfortable, show some personality, but don't go overboard. At the same time, don't be too professional or stiff. Do your best to mirror the person you're talking to.If you want to build rapport then the key is to mirror their behavior, tone, posture, etc. As I said before, networking is a balancing act, and you are going to have to become very self-aware and learn a lot about human behavior if you want to be successful.
  • If you can't do this, don't fake it. It is painfully obvious to anyone with a good social IQ, and you will only hurt your reputation more by faking it. Most people (and by that I mean over 90%) end to speak only about themselves, and keep bringing the conversation back to them.If you want to be a successful networker, don't be that person, and don't be the one who makes these mistakes.-Arman
  • When preparing your pitch we recommend that you use a kisss - you keep it short, sweet & simple. The most typical mistake of pitching is that people fail to keep it simple and they end up delivering an unclear message. You only have a few minutes in front of the jury so you won’t have time to tell them all your great ideas. You only have time to focus on the core feature of your idea – what entrepreneurs call the minimal viable product.  If you can effectively explain what pain you are removing and how your solution does this effectively you have done a great job with your pitch.
  • Okay so let’s have a look at the tasks in this stage – you are going to build a prototype, to prepare your pitch, to practice your pitch and finally present it to the jury.
  • Prototyping is a really important part of a good pitch. By having a simple prototype of your idea it becomes a lot easier to explain what you are doing. A prototype can be any kind of visualization of the idea, you won’t have time to build a very advanced model of the product but that’s also not necessary. As long as you can find a good way to show how the product or service works it’s great! So use your imagination to do a little role-play, make a nice drawing or build a simple mock-up of your idea.  *if you have hired sketchers for the camp you can get them to help the teams visualize their ideas
  • When you are pitching it is extremely crucial that you show your passion for your idea – if you don’t believe in your product nobody else will either.. Here is an example of a guy shows a lot of passion for his company
  • When preparing for your pitch you also need to find a good way to capture the audience – it is not just what you say, it is as much about how you say it. *content versus Delivery.. You need to show the jury that you believe in your idea and that you have the energy and the skills to become successful innovators.  Here are a few good tips on presentation technique. As I said before you need to express that you have the drive and the passion for your idea, no standing in the corner with you hands in your pockets.. Get out and own the room. You should have a confident upright body position with your hands in a comfortable position above your hips. Avoid standing in front of your prototype or your presentation. Try to get eye contact with people in every corner of the room. If you tend to get nervous and maybe forget your line of thought just take a deep breath and start over – pausing can be very powerful so don’t worry about taking a few breaks.
  • When it comes to structuring your pitch we recommend that you use the fish template to build a good storyline. Start out strong by addressing the problem you want to solve and make sure to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the user and the context of the problem.  Then you explain your solution in short and precise terms – do not go into too many technical details to begin with, just focus on explaining the value proposition for the user and how it works. “bite into the viewer” = capture the audience“fill the belly” add information about your solution“strong flick of the tail” end of in a way that will make the jury remember your presentation
  • Show video by Adeo Ressi on pitching technique (preload the video in your browser before your presentation – then it’s easier to pull it in.: Here is the clip: http://vimeo.com/16447520 or here:http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/03/madlibs-pitch-adeo-ressi-founder-institute/Let students do exercise:5 minutes: Students create their own high concept pitch – destilling their startup vision into a single phrase of sentence.The importance of a high concept pitch: how is anybody going to tell anybode about your product if you can’t describe it in a few words?It is crucial to have an easy high concept pitch so that people will spread your message for you..
  • Show video by Adeo Ressi on pitching technique (preload the video in your browser before your presentation – then it’s easier to pull it in.: Here is the clip: http://vimeo.com/16447520 or here:http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/03/madlibs-pitch-adeo-ressi-founder-institute/Let students do exercise:5 minutes: Students create their own high concept pitch – destilling their startup vision into a single phrase of sentence.The importance of a high concept pitch: how is anybody going to tell anybode about your product if you can’t describe it in a few words?It is crucial to have an easy high concept pitch so that people will spread your message for you..
  • Enabling people to very quickly understand the concept of the product.. by mentioning similar products and thereby providing a frame of reference…It is very common in the movie industry that instead of explaining all the details of a new movie concept you can just say that is like a combination of two well known movies or a twist of another well known movie “Jaws in space = AliensIt’s getting more popular to do the same for tech companies… like Flickr for video = Youtube*see if you can get the students to guess the answers of those..
  • Try to incorporate a bit of storytelling in your pitch – tell the jury a good example of how the problem affects the user today and how you can solve this problem and improve the user’s life quality.. Stories are very powerful when you want to move the audience and make them remember your presentation. *show video with Jeff Hoffman about being disciplined
  • When you have created your pitch you need to practice – run it through several times and get feedback from your team and maybe also from your buddy team. You only have a short time to present so make sure to practice how to stay within the time limit.
  • Most important to investors is traction – your product’s engagement with its market. In order of importance it is demonstrated through profit, revenue, customers, pilot customers, non-paying users, and verified hypothesis about customer problems. A story without traction is a work of fiction. You must start building your product and start testing it with your market before you start raising money!The market doesn’t seem large, invetors won’t care about yout product, team, or company at all.Is Your Product a Vitamin or a Painkiller? If You Are Here to Raise Money: How Far Will This Money Take You? It is important that you have a realistic estimate of the money you will need and a plan for how to spend it so be prepared to answer questions like: Do you have a financing plan with milestones? How much total money do you need? How far will this money take you? Does the budget have a buffer for unforeseen costs and delays? What is the exit strategy? If there is time you can let them have abother 5 min preparation and then another pitching round 2 and 2..
  • Emphasize how important it is to keep the slides simple – don’t put a lot of text on them.. The audience can read the slides faster than you can talk! You want the focus to be on you as the presenter, not on the slides.. Don’t have the slides be your speaker notes, that’s not the point with visual aids, the slides should only help the audience remember your talk.. Be as visual as possible (use pictures instead of words)
  • Most important to investors is traction – your product’s engagement with its market. In order of importance it is demonstrated through profit, revenue, customers, pilot customers, non-paying users, and verified hypothesis about customer problems. A story without traction is a work of fiction. You must start building your product and start testing it with your market before you start raising money!The market doesn’t seem large, invetors won’t care about yout product, team, or company at all.Is Your Product a Vitamin or a Painkiller? If You Are Here to Raise Money: How Far Will This Money Take You? It is important that you have a realistic estimate of the money you will need and a plan for how to spend it so be prepared to answer questions like: Do you have a financing plan with milestones? How much total money do you need? How far will this money take you? Does the budget have a buffer for unforeseen costs and delays? What is the exit strategy? If there is time you can let them have abother 5 min preparation and then another pitching round 2 and 2..
  • When it comes to structuring your pitch we recommend that you use the fish template to build a good storyline. Start out strong by addressing the problem you want to solve and make sure to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the user and the context of the problem.  Then you explain your solution in short and precise terms – do not go into too many technical details to begin with, just focus on explaining the value proposition for the user and how it works. “bite into the viewer” = capture the audience“fill the belly” add information about your solution“strong flick of the tail” end of in a way that will make the jury remember your presentation
  • Transcript

    • 1. Structure?How? By Henrik Scheel www.startupexperience.co
    • 2. Elevator Pitch
    • 3. Entrepreneurs are always pitching
    • 4. Networking 7 Biggest Mistakes People Make While Networking:1. Name Dropping2. Talking Too Much3. Talking About Yourself Without Being Asked4. Not Knowing When To End The Conversation5. Showing Off6. Asking For a Follow Up When Its Not Deserved7. Being Too Professional Or Too Unprofessional
    • 5. The single most important tip to networkingsuccessfully is this:Have a genuine interest in the other person.
    • 6. Mark TwainFamous American writer
    • 7. The tasks to master Prototype Prototype Prepare Prepare Practice Practice Present Deliver
    • 8. Prototype Software demo Role-play Video Simple mock-up drawing
    • 9. ENERGY
    • 10. Content VS Delivery?
    • 11. Mad libs for pitchingMy company, (Company name)is developing (a defined offering) to help (a targeted audience) (solve a problem) (with secret sauce)
    • 12. PITCH TRAINING
    • 13. Mad libs for pitchingMy company, (Company name)is developing (a defined offering) to help (a targeted audience) (solve a problem) (with secret sauce)
    • 14. The high concept pitchA high concept pitch distills a startup’s vision into a single sentence. “Its Jaws in space!” (Alien) “Flickr for video.” (YouTube)
    • 15. Jeff Hoffman – Be Disciplined
    • 16. PracticeTrain to stay within the time limit Ask your buddy team
    • 17. Structure your pitch Customer’s pain Market Competition Solution + secret sauce Business model Traction Team Timeline & StatusAnd remember…- Talk about what you have done (not only what you will do)
    • 18. Evaluation criteria• A team with exceptional people and strong expertise in the business area• Unique business proposals based on a real need, with a differentiated value proposition and the ability to address a large market• Innovative business models and/or technologies• A well defined going to market strategy
    • 19. Visual aids Fewer slides Fewer bullets Fewer words Font size +30 Be visualDon’t talk to your slides
    • 20. DOs and DON’Ts• Be ready to pitch in less than a minute• Don’t ask a VC to sign an NDA• Know your competition• Deliver significantly better value than your competitors• Pitch your team• Don’t overpromise• Ask for a realistic valuation
    • 21. PITCH TRAINING
    • 22. Structure your pitch Customer’s pain Market Competition Solution + secret sauce Business model Traction Team Timeline & StatusAnd remember…- Talk about what you have done (not only what you will do)
    • 23. What should I send investors?• Don’t send long business plans to investors.• Don’t ask for NDAs.• Don’t share information that must remain confidential.• Understand that investors care about traction over everything else.• Don’t send a 50-page business plan to investors. Nobody reads them and nobody executes them.
    • 24. Don’t ask for an NDA.“Because of the large number of business plans… that wereview, and the similarity of many such plans… we cannotaccept responsibility for protecting against misuse ordisclosure of any confidential or proprietary information…” — Sequoia CapitalInvestors don’t sign NDAs because they don’t want to getsued over them.
    • 25. What investors look for 1. Traction 2. Team 3. Product 4. Social ProofTraction is demonstrated profit, revenue, customers, pilot customers, or users (in order of importance)
    • 26. What should I send investors?Summary: An introduction captures an investor’s attention, but agreat elevator pitch gets a meeting. The major components of thepitch are traction, product, and team.
    • 27. What should I send investors?Subject: Introducing Ning to Blue Shirt Capital Hi Nivi, Thanks for offering to introduce us to Blue Shirt Capital. Ive attached a short presentation about ourcompany, Ning. Briefly, Ning lets you create your own social network for anything. For free. In 2 minutes. Its as easy asstarting a blog. Try it at http://ning.com Ning unlocks the great ideas from people all over the world who want to use this amazing medium intheir lives. We have over 115,000 user-created networks and our page views are growing 10% per week. Wepreviously raised $44M from Legg Mason and others, including myself. Before Ning, I started Netscape (acquired by AOL for $4.2B) and Opsware (acquired by HP for $1.6B). Ive admired Blue Shirts investments from afar. Were starting meetings with investors next week and Iwould love to show Blue Shirt what were building at Ning. Best, Marc Andreessen xyz@ning.com 415.555.1212
    • 28. Hi A quick “cold email” to see if you would be interested in helping X raisemoney. Our Story• We are the the X of Y• Over X Million registered users• Growing at X new users per day• Projecting growth at X new users per day in next X days• Zero cost per customer acquisition If you are interested please contact me :) Thanks
    • 29. What should I send investors?A PowerPoint plan (“deck”) is less important than an elevator pitch, andan elevator pitch is less important than an introduction.We have a mission and a team that is taking us there. Why? Wediscovered a large problem and solved it with a product that has thisamazing technology inside. We’re going to market and sell it to thesecustomers, with these advantages over our competitors. In particular,we’re working towards these milestones over the next few quarters. Inconclusion, this financing is a great investment opportunity.
    • 30. 1. Cover.2. Mission.3. Summary. Summarize the key, compelling facts of the company. You can steal the content from your elevator pitch.4. Team. Highlight the past accomplishments of the team; if your team has been successful before, investors may believe it will be successful again. Don’t include positions you intend to fill—save that for the Milestones slide. Put yourself last: it seems humble and lets you tell a story about how your career has led to the discovery of the…5. Problem.6. Solution. Include a demo such as a screencast, a link to working software, or pictures. God help you if you have nothing to show.7. Technology.8. Marketing. Include market size estimates here or in the Problem. If you haven’t launched, discuss your plan to acquire users or customers.9. Sales. If you don’t have sales, discuss your business model and prospective customers. Ignore the cost of customer acquisition unless you have some insight into the issue.10. Competition. Describe why users or customers use your product instead of the competition’s product. Describe any competitive advantages that remain after the competition decides to copy you exactly.11. Milestones. Don’t build a detailed financial model if you don’t have past earnings, a significant financial history, or insight into the issue. Instead, include your current status and milestones for the next 1-3 quarters for product, team, marketing, sales, and quarterly and cumulative burn.12. Conclusion. This slide can be inspirational, a larger vision of what the company could do if these current plans are realized, or a rehash of the Summary slide.13. Financing. Dates, amounts, and sources of money raised. How much money are you raising in this round?
    • 31. 12 SLIDES! 5 important questions• Is your product a vitamin or a pain killer?• How well do you understand your user?• Who are your competitors?• Who do you have in your team?• How much do you need to raise and how far will it take you?
    • 32. Example from TC DISRUPT
    • 33. Henrik Scheelhenrik@startupxp.com