In this presentation, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I learned about telling a compelling story. I hope you’ll learn the formula for giving a strong pitch, but more importantly, I hope this presentation helps you think long and hard about how to refine your business strategy.
Today, I’d like to share with you the magical art of crafting a great pitch. It’s a repeatable recipe – a formula to tell a story that makes your audience go WOW!We’ll bounce back and forth between presentation and workshop so you’ll have a chance to apply some of the concepts we’re talking about while it’s still fresh in your mind. I have to emphasize that this is a complicated process that looks deceptively easy. To get the WOW, it’ll take many iterations of build, test, critique, adjust, test, critique, and repeat. Like anything, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
Step zero in the process is to understand who you’re pitching to and what you want them to get out of your presentation. For example:maybe you’re pitching to a VC because you want them to invest. They care about risk/return (we’ll talk about that later in the presentation); maybe you’re pitching to a star candidate you want to hire – he/she wants to hear about the cool technology you’re working on, the benefits plan, the compensation;Maybe you’re pitching to a good looking woman (or man) in a bar and you want to impress her (or him) with your business. A personal pet peeve of mine is when I go to an established company’s web site or sales literature and I read the company proudly proclaim that they are addressing a multibillion dollar market. Who is this company talking to? Do customer’s care that the company is addressing a billion dollar market? NO. The customer cares about how well the product solves his/her problem and whether you do it better, faster, cheaper or lower risk that the other guy.
PLEASE. Before you prepare a pitch or a presentation or a web site. Understand who you’re talking to; What questions they want answered and What you want to get out of the meeting.Okay. So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about the pitch.
Telling a great story is incredibly powerful. People buy a great story. I’ve sold over $1 billion on the basis of great technology and a great story.
Storytelling is an Art, not a Science. BUT there are some guidelines and structure that I’m going to talk about today that make the “art” more likely to achieve your objectives.
We’ll break today down into 2 sections: Substance and Style. Substance – meaning your strategy or your product. The core content that is full of juicy meat that gets your audience salivating.Style – meaning the way you package your content in bite size morsels and feed your audience. (Today I’m not going to talk about eye contact, gestures and intonation although these are also important parts of your pitch.)
If you’re not getting a ‘WOW’ from your audience, your doing something wrong. Take the time to analyze what’s not working and fix it. It could be a problem with your substance (strategy), it could be a problem with your style (presentation) or it could be that you’re talking to the wrong person (the subject of another day). The rest of this presentation we’ll talk about the first two today: Substance and Style.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the 4 P’s of marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. Well today, I’d like to talk about the 4 T’s of a pitch. Technology, Team, Traction and Treasure. This is the steak of your pitch and we’ll talk about each of these on the next four slides. If the steak isn’t thick and juicy, you’re not going to get the audience salivating, so this is absolutely critical. Properly addressing these four points in your pitch is critical to good storytelling and essential to capture the interest of any investor. But other audiences are also going to want to hear these 4 T’s to varying degrees. For example, a customer will obviously want to know about why your product is the best solution for them. They’ll also want to know that you understand their business and their challenges; that you have other customers who have also bought your product and that you’re a financially sound business.In the early days, you may not have all 4 T’s nailed down. That’s okay.If you have incredible traction in what seems to be a large market, you can raise money no matter what the product and team look like.If you have some traction and the market seems large, your product and team are both critical to raising money.If you have NO traction, a great demo or a previously successful team are essential.
Technology really speaks to your product. Specifically, investors want to know what your secret sauce is. What’s your core intellectual property that you invented and how does it solve a real and burning problem for your customers. They also want to know how easy it is for others to copy you. Patents are a valuable part of the discussion, but they shouldn’t be the core of your argument.Modern internet companies tend to have little core intellectual property. They focus more on problem/solution and customer acquisition strategies. Still, technology speaks to scalability, security, feature content and agility in responding to customer requirements.The whole time you’re up there talking, investors are doing a mental calculation, trying to assess where the risks are and offset that with the WOW-factor of the presenter and his/her content.
Team speaks to the expertise of the senior members of the company. How did you come up with the idea for this business? Have you started a business before? (Note that it’s okay to have failed as long as you took away some strong learning points.) What gaps are there in the management team? (It’s okay to have gaps as long as you identify them and explain when/how/who to fill them.) A good Board of Directors and advisers adds lots of credibility.
Traction is all about the customer. Who is your poster-child customer? How many customers do you have? Are they paying? How much?What problem are you solving for your customer? How burning a problem are you solving and how are they solving it today? Why is your solution better and what are the cost/effort/benefit of adopting your solution?One of the biggest factors to discuss is your customer acquisition strategy and cost of acquiring customers.
I roll my eyes when I hear someone tell me they’re addressing a billion dollar market. Yah Yah…it’s a big market, but...Do you understand its make-up? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to address a billion dollar market. Your challenge is to narrow your addressable market down to a small, easy to reach customer set. As a startup, focus is critical to your success. You need to out-run, out-maneuver, out-smart big incumbent players and the only way to do that is with a laser focus on a homogeneous customer base with common feature requirements. Pick a market segment, listen to your customers and dominate the narrow segment. Then (and only then) expand. This strategy is particularly essential in the current funding environment!
Okay, so now that you have your “Substance” - the meat (or the steak) of a good pitch, let’s turn to the “style” - the bite-size chunks you’re going to serve your audience.Crafting a good story depends on who you’re talking to and also, the context in which you’re telling the story. For example, if you’re in a bar and you’re introduced to a potential investor, you probably don’t want to whip out your PowerPoint slides right away. You want to whet his/her appetite with a high level teaser and then get an invitation to a follow-on meeting where you can drill down into a PowerPoint presentation.So really, we shouldn’t be talking about “A Great Story”. We should be talking about “A few Great Stories” Plural.The Concept Pitch is a simple catchy metaphor that explains what you’re doing, what space you’re in and why you’re different from others. If done well, it’s a powerful handle for people to grasp and remember. “We are the Encyclopaedia Britannica of the Internet.”The Stand-Up Pitch is your elevator pitch. Your 100 seconds to let me smell that thick juicy steak and get my saliva flowing.The “Get a Meeting” pitch is what you use to open doors with potential investors you don’t know first hand.And finally, the Investor Pitch is your slide deck that tells the whole story in a concise, complete and compelling way.We’ll go through each of these through the rest of the presentation.
Taglines are for big companies with big budgets. Don’t spend the time/effort on this. Stick to the meat of your business.
I think a vision for your business is critical. If you can articulate why you started the business and you can make it a personal, compelling message explaining why/how you want to change the world, it can be a very effective tool for rallying and guiding employees, the Board and investors. BUT, if you don’t spend the time and effort and if it’s not coming from the heart, it’s a pointless exercise. For example, if you can substitute the word “Grocery Store” for “Bank” and it still makes sense, then it’s probably not a good Vision Statement. Where’s the vision or innovation in that? Where’s the WOW? I can’t even figure out what ARK does?I certainly wouldn’t invest in these businesses. Would you?
A Concept Pitch is a simple memorable description of your business using a memorable metaphor to paint a picture for your audience.
You walk into a room and a reporter walks up to you and sticks a microphone in your face and asks you “So…tell our viewers about your company.” You’ve got maximum 100 seconds before the audience reaches for the remote to change the channel. You’ve got to make it count. Your stand-up pitch has to be short and engaging with enough of a tease that your audience wants to know more. You’ve got to sell your credibility and your thought leadership. Don’t pack too much into the pitch. Your objective is to be invited back for a full in-depth interview. Let’s review the formula for a successful stand-up pitch.
Here’s what you need to get across in 100 seconds or less. No cheating – you’re not allowed to speak fast – if you do, your audience won’t be able to follow you, so choose your words carefully. Script it, rehearse it and make it sound natural, casual and sincere.
Here’s an example of a good pitch.
Let’s dissect the pitch. Notice how substance and style fit together: The metaphor comes out up front along with the problem you’re trying to solve. You then move into the 4 T’s.I was thinking of making it even easier to see “at a glance” what each part of the pitch is. See small eg of it color coded above.
Note how the 4 T’s are covered.-> Same comment/example as in slide 28.
Chances are, you’re going to need to raise money. How do you get an appointment with a potential investor? Perhaps you’re looking to attract a potential Board member or advisor. How do you catch their interest? If you don’t know the individual, it’s hard to get in the door. With the “Get a Meeting” Pitch, it’s about using your network to get in front of the right people. People who:Previously funded and successful entrepreneursOther investors (co-investors, existing investors)Market or industry luminaries and recognized expertsSelf-proclaimed experts (like bloggers and startup advisors)Lawyers, accountants, board members, investment bankers, professional groups.
The “Get a Meeting” pitch is typically an email introduction that’s forwarded from you to an intermediary to the person you want to get in front of. It’s got to be short, punchy and factual. Somehow, you’ve got to get the “WOW” out of a flat email. Let’s dig into the formula.
Here’s an example introductory email pitch.
Just as before, notice the use of a metaphor and the 4 T’s in a simple, concise email.
Now that you’ve passed the first hurdle (either the stand-up pitch or the “get a meeting” pitch), you’ve been invited to present to a team of potential investors or customers. You’ve got 30 minutes to impress your audience – to “WOW” them. Here’s the formula (with an investor slant).
Here’s where you tell your story. Here’s the moment you’ve been working up to. Don’t bore them with 30 PowerPoint slides in 30 minutes. Don’t fill the screen with slide after slide of text. Illustrate, demonstrate and paint a picture in their mind.Make it as real as possible for your audience.
Probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you I learned from a VC named Guy Kawasaki. He coined the 10/20/30 Rule. These are words to live by. http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html#axzz1LbNZZ0aa
One of the masters of the 10/20/30 Rule is Steve Jobs. If you’ve ever seen his product announcements, they’re strikingly visual, simple and compelling. He tells a visual story and makes it real for his audience. Every gesture, every word is carefully scripted and rehearsed so that it sounds and feels natural. If you haven’t seen his announcements, it’s worth taking the time to study them and learn from a master.
Contrast this, text-heavy slide with the previous one. Which is more memorable? Which is more powerful?Use speaker notes and voice-over to deliver the content. Use the visuals to leave a lasting memory.But read the content of this slide. This is the story you need to tell in 20 minutes and 10 slides. Here’s the formula. (And yes, ironically the next few slides are very text-heavy.)
The sequence of slides tells a story:We have a mission and a team that is taking us there. Why? We discovered this large problem and solved it with a product that has this amazing technology inside. We’re going to market and sell it to these customers, with these advantages that competitors simply cannot match. In particular, we’re working towards these milestones over the next few quarters. In conclusion, this financing is a great investment opportunity.
We’ve covered a lot today. In summary, to get the WOW from your audience, you first need to understand your audience: What they want out of the meeting, what you want out of the meeting. Tune your message appropriately.You need to tell a story with both substance and style. Substance being the 4 T’s and style being the formulae unique to the type of pitch. I’m thinking that the ordering of the 4Ts into the funnel should correspond with that in the 1st slides & then also order of the VC pitch. *I also made the circles a little bigger in the funnel.
It takes a lot of hard work and refinement to get a ‘WOW’ from your audience. Take the time to analyze what’s not working and fix it. It could be a problem with your substance (strategy), it could be a problem with your style (presentation) or it could be that you’re talking to the wrong person (the subject of another day). It can take many months to get the perfect pitch and that’s okay. It’s time well spent that can help you make a billion dollars for your investors.
Tune your pitch for your audience<br />Co-founders<br />Employees<br />Professionals<br />Partners<br />Customers<br />Investors<br />Media<br />Your mother<br />Source: KaffeeTrauma<br />3<br />
Know Your Audience<br />PLEASE. Before you prepare a pitch or a presentation or a web site. <br />Understand who you’re talking to; <br />What questions they want answered; and <br />What you want to get out of the meeting.<br />4<br />
Source: Rapid City Public Library<br />People buy in to a Great Story.<br />5<br />
Source: Rapid City Public Library<br />Storytelling is an Art, not a Science.<br />6<br />
Source: Rapid City Public Library<br />Telling a Great Story: Substance, Style.<br />7<br />
Putting it all together: A Great Story<br />19<br />
The Concept Pitch<br />Say it in 3-5 words…<br />
The Concept Pitch<br />NOT your Tagline<br />21<br />
The Concept Pitch<br />NOT your Vision or Mission Statement<br />22<br />
The Concept Pitch<br />Simple, memorable description of your business, using analogies to paint a metaphor.<br />”Flickrfor video”<br />“Amazon for rare, collectable, out-of-print books”<br />”AT&T for the Internet”<br />”Classified Ads for the Internet”<br />”Encyclopaedia Britannica for the Internet”<br />23<br />
The Stand Up Pitch<br />Your elevator pitch.<br />Cocktail party conversation.<br />The 100 second story.<br />
The Stand Up Pitch<br />“Tell me about your company!”<br />Make it a short, engaging description of your business.<br />Source: n.macca<br />25<br />
What you need to cover<br />a<br /><ul><li>What is your product or service?
Why should the audience care?</li></ul>a<br />a<br />a<br />a<br />26<br />
Sample Stand Up Pitch<br />PetPlay is introducing a line of gourmet canned cat foods with the brand name Petite Cuisine. These products look good, smell great, and taste great because they are people food for cats! You may not want to, but you could eat it!<br /> Research shows consumers love the products for their refreshing look and pleasant smell—and cats devour them. Petite Cuisine is 100% nutritionally complete for cats and is made from products you would buy at the meat and fish counter. The line currently has eight items including whole tuna, red snapper filets, baby shrimp, and rock crab. <br /> I launched and ran Fancy Feast, the largest competitor in this space nationally and ran one of Nestle's international pet food divisions. I know this market well. <br /> Orders are in from Ralph's grocery chain with additional distribution commitments totalling 500 stores.<br /> Capital is being raised in two stages—$500,000 in initial launch capital for 500 stores and then a round of expansion capital of $3 to $5 million for 3,000+ stores.<br /> Tech Coast Angels, 2007<br />27<br />
Breaking down the Pitch<br />Problem you’re solving<br />PetPlayis introducing a line of gourmet canned cat foods with the brand name Petite Cuisine. These products look good, smell great, and taste great because they are people food for cats! You may not want to, but you could eat it! <br /> <br />Catchy concept pitch<br />Research shows consumers love the products for their refreshing look and pleasant smell—and cats devour them<br />Understands industry and consumers<br />Petite Cuisine is 100% nutritionally complete for cats and is made from products you would buy at the meat and fish counter. The line currently has eight items including whole tuna, red snapper filets, baby shrimp, and rock crab. <br />T<br />Differentiated product<br />28<br />
Breaking down the Pitch<br />BIG experience<br />T<br />I launched and ran Fancy Feast, the largest competitor in this space nationally and ran one of Nestle's international pet food divisions. I know this market well.<br />Orders are in from Ralph's grocery chain with additional distribution commitments totalling 500 stores.<br />Good traction<br />T<br />Capital is being raised in two stages—$500,000 in initial launch capital for 500 stores and then a round of expansion capital of $3 to $5 million for 3,000+ stores<br />Understands what it will take<br />T<br />29<br />
The “Get a Meeting” Pitch<br />NOT an executive summary<br />NOT a product description<br />High level concept description + team + traction<br />Can be formatted as an email <br />Target 100 words or less<br />Delivery measured in seconds, not minutes<br />31<br />
Subject: Introducing Ning to Blue Shirt Capital<br />Hi Nivi,<br />Thanks for offering to introduce us to Blue Shirt Capital. I've attached a short presentation about our company, Ning.<br />Briefly, Ning lets you create your own social network for anything. For free. In 2 minutes. It's as easy as starting a blog. Try it at http://ning.com<br />Ning unlocks the great ideas from people all over the world who want to use this amazing medium in their lives.<br />We have over 115,000 user-created networks and our page views are growing 10% per week. We previously raised $44M from Legg Mason and others, including myself.<br />Before Ning, I started Netscape (acquired by AOL for $4.2B) and Opsware (acquired by HP for $1.6B).<br />I've admired Blue Shirt's investments from afar. We're starting meetings with investors next week and I would love to show Blue Shirt what we're building at Ning.<br />Best,<br />Marc Andreessenxyz@ning.com415.555.1212 Source: Pitching Hacks, 2009<br />32<br />
Subject: Introducing Ning to Blue Shirt Capital<br />Hi Nivi,<br />Thanks for offering to introduce us to Blue Shirt Capital. I've attached a short presentation about our company, Ning. <br />Briefly, Ning lets you create your own social network for anything. For free. In 2 minutes. It's as easy as starting a blog. Try it at http://ning.com<br />Ning unlocks the great ideas from people all over the world who want to use this amazing medium in their lives.<br />We have over 115,000 user-created networks and our page views are growing 10% per week. We previously raised $44M from Legg Mason and others, including myself.<br />Before Ning, I started Netscape (acquired by AOL for $4.2B) and Opsware (acquired by HP for $1.6B).<br />I've admired Blue Shirt's investments from afar. We're starting meetings with investors next week and I would love to show Blue Shirt what we're building at Ning. <br />Best,<br />Marc Andreessenxyz@ning.com415.555.1212 Pitching Hacks, 2009<br />Simple & concise email<br />Problem you’re solving<br />Good metaphor pitch phrase<br />Good customer engagement<br />Good experience<br />Call to action<br />33<br />
We have a mission and a team that is taking us there. Why? We discovered this large problem and solved it with a product that has this amazing technology inside. We’re going to market and sell it to these customers, with these advantages that competitors simply cannot match. In particular, we’re working towards these milestones over the next few quarters. In conclusion, this financing is a great investment opportunity.<br />The sequence of slides tells a story:<br />38<br />
Contents of an Investor Pitch<br />Problem<br />Your solution<br />Business model<br />Underlying magic/technology<br />Marketing and sales<br />Competition<br />Team<br />Status and timeline<br />Projections and milestones<br />Summary and call to action<br />39<br />
The Problem<br />Describe the customer, market, and problem you address, without getting into your product. <br />Current state and seriousness of the problem<br />Desired future state, benefit to customer<br />Scale of the initial market<br />Use Graphics (better than words)<br />40<br />
Solution<br />Introduce your product and its benefits and describe how it addresses the problem you just described.<br />Include a demo such as a screencast, a link to working software, or pictures. <br />Make it visual. Make it real for your audience.<br />41<br />
Business Model<br />Explain how you are going to make money. <br />If you have sales, describe the value to customers. <br />Describe the economics that turn the business into $X kajillion per year<br />Use microeconomics (each user is worth $1/year) rather than macroeconomics (i.e. if we can get 1% of a $10B market…).<br />42<br />
Underlying Magic or Technology<br />Describe the technology behind your solution<br />Focus on how the technology enables the differentiated aspects of your solution<br />If applicable, mention patent status<br />43<br />
Marketing and Sales<br />Who are the customers? How big is the market?<br />You summarized this in your Problem slide and this is your opportunity to elaborate. <br />How are you going to acquire customers? <br />What customers have you already acquired?<br />44<br />
Competition<br />Describe why customers use your product instead of the competition’s. <br />Describe any competitive advantages that remain after the competition decides to copy<br />Never deny that you have competitors — it's okay to compete. Against anyone.<br />45<br />
Team<br />Highlight the past accomplishments of the team.<br />If your team has been successful before, investors may believe it can be successful again. <br />Include directors or advisors who bring something special to the company. <br />Don’t include positions you intend to fill — save that for the milestones slide. <br />Put yourself last: it seems humble and lets you tell a story about how your career has led to the discovery of the…<br />46<br />
Projections and Milestones<br />A timeline chart that overlays significant milestone dates - funding, product development, customer delivery, markets and revenue, expense profit/loss projections <br />Use a table with the quarters on the xaxis and the functions on the y-axis. <br />Don’t build a detailed financial model if you don’t have past earnings, a significant financial history, or insight into the issue. <br />47<br />
Status and Timeline<br />Dates, amounts, and sources of money raised<br />How much money are you raising in this round?<br />Indicate uses of funds and what will be achieved<br />48<br />
Summary<br />Summarize the key, compelling facts of the company. Make sure you cover all the topics that are in your elevator pitch<br />Finish with a call to action. Include your complete contact information<br />49<br />
The Art of the Pitch<br />50<br />You<br />Who<br />They<br />Technology<br />Treasure<br />Traction<br /> Team<br />$<br />$<br />
Storytelling is an ongoing process of continuous improvement<br />51<br />
YOUR HOMEWORK<br />Email us your concept and stand-up pitches. (Oct 18)<br />email@example.com<br />Prepare your Investor Pitch. (Oct 20)<br />Miller Thomson,10th Floor 840 Howe St<br />52<br />
The End<br />Source: Rapid City Public Library<br />And they lived happily ever after…<br />53<br />
Contacts, References and Acknowledgements<br />BCTIA firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com<br />www.centre4growth.com;http://twitter.com/centre4growth<br />http://venturehacks.com/pitching<br />http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html#axzz1DWuDlhhM<br />http://www.startupblender.com/posts/004-your-pitch-sucks<br />“30 seconds to pitch your company”, Steve Bayle<br />http://www.pitchtheangels.com/<br />http://www.flickr.com/<br />55<br />