MENTOR’S CORNER:

What’s the game plan……..It’s all About the Pitch !!
By Philip Marmina, Spark Centre Volunteer Mentor

Entrepreneurs possess a unique set of skills that allow them to accomplish great things by developing ideas from needs they see in the world around them. Their ideas and passion are the life blood of our economy; from idea generation and solutions for our current and future needs to developing new technologies and creating jobs, entrepreneurs know how to make things happen.

Although wonderful at coming up with ideas and developing them into tangible products and services, many entrepreneurs struggle with developing an effective pitch that allows them to quickly commercialize and fund their ideas. Entrepreneurs have the vision but need to think about how they can sell their idea and create an executable strategy and carry it through.

Unlike idea generation where this is no recipe for success; developing a successful business pitch is straightforward and can be easily accomplished by using the following game plan.

    1. Curve ball, slider, striker….know your pitches. The most successful pitches grab the audience quickly (30-45 seconds) and usually include a short story about how your product solved a problem or met a need. This allows the audience to identify with you and your idea.
    2. Who are your starters? Sell yourself and your team to investors as they need confidence in the people that are going to run the business. Identify relevant experience, roles and customer relationships. Honesty is a key attribute, so don’t make stuff up when asked questions. Instead, use it as an opportunity for follow-up with the audience to continue your dialogue afterwards.
    3. Who are your fans and what are they buying? Identify who your customers are and what experience your have had with them already. Emphasize testimonials or direct discussions you have had with them and how the product helped your customers.
    4. Scouting is critical. Identify the key competitors, trends and the barriers to entry. This will demonstrate to your audience your expertise, the uniqueness of your product and how much time you have to succeed before competitors will arise.
    5. Moneyball. Provide your audience with a road map for monetization. Include revenue already generated or booked, as well as your expected revenue and gross margins for year 1, 2 and 3. Avoid hockey stick projections and be optimistically realistic.

Remember, a pitch is your opportunity to generate interest in your business and not the time to get into every little detail about your product. The best pitches are those that attract lots of questions and continued dialogue about your business.

Lastly, remember that you get one chance with each audience so preparation is the single most important factor. Practice your pitch on friends and family and tape yourself to see how you look. On game day you will shine!