That Elusive Killer Pitch

Having gone through two accelerators and 4 demo days (dare anyone call me old uncle of accelerators), below are few pointers from my experience.

  1. A pitch is composed of three things – Endo, Exo and Deck
    • Endo – Aspects internal to you. Your confidence, your preparation, your understanding of your business, your thoroughness with your numbers, with market numbers, your thoroughness with challenges etc. Essentially all things that will make you speak from heart and confidence.
    • Exo – Aspects external to you. The audience, what’s the majority of audience, investors, press or mango people, the venue, the projection technique, the mic used (is it a lapel mic, so that you have two hands to gesture) or a hand mic, projection screen is next to you or behind you, is the stage elevated etc. This nuances trouble you at the last moment and throw all your preparation off-cliff.
    • Deck – You prepare a deck to educate the audience about how awesome your business is. Notice the bold word. “Educate”, “audience” and “Awesome”. You need to speak only those aspects of your business which are awesome, and things will make your audience say “Awesome!!!”, which will lead you to second meeting and things that you will like to educate the audience about your business or market. And here is where knowing your audience matters. How high level or how intricate you need to get.
  2. I suggest planning your pitch from two angels – Your goal (usually funding) and Exo.
  3. Use your goal and knowledge about Exo to craft your story that you wish to tell the Exo. The deck is essentially a picture slideshow to accentuate your story.
  4. Million $ question: What’s a perfect story? – Has a good start, good end and a dispute in between and your resolution to the dispute. Show traction (if you have), your team (describe in detail), Your market size (addressable market, not BS vanity numbers). Rest all are connectors. Your story has to go through this three data points. If you don’t have traction in traditional sense, don’t fret, there is always something that’s promising, that shows growth, spot it.
  5. Don’t say bullshit. VCs can spot it a mile away. Be genuine, be honest and Be yourself. Most important!
  6. Practice a lot. Right down to hand gesture, and your walk and your jokes and your punchlines. Plant your feet on stage (don’t wiggle, don’t dance). And SMILE! Golden rule to this practice is: your pitch should appear natural. Great pitches (demo or sales pitch) are conversations and conversations are natural.
  7. Be memorable. Do anything that you can but be memorable.
  8. Keep good visiting cards handy. Wear your tshirt/hoodie/swag so that you are recognizable (don’t expect audience to remember each company and its founder)
  9. Remember the concept of teasers. You don’t want to say everything and you don’t want to say nothing. When you will meet people in the lobby or gallery, tease them with awesomeness of your product and service and let them come back to you. Usually traction numbers or some big coverage or some insight about your space which shows your authority in your space will work.
  10. This is the 10th point and 10 is the number of slides you should use for 3 minutes pitch. Add couple more for intro and outro slide. Avoid the temptation to force fit anything.

I will repeat: Be yourself. Stage is yours. The company is yours. The idea is yours. No one has more authority on your startup than you. Show that!

And the last point, will paraphrase Ashton Kutcher – “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being smart, and thoughtful, and generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you.”

This post was originally sent in an email that was a part of one of the GSF’s frequent heated discussions.

2 thoughts

  1. Mohannam says:

    Why the hell did you go to 2 accelerators?? Was GSF’s 1st stint not useful or you were not able to raise money here, so u thought what the hell, let me build my profile and go to US of A?

  2. Talivinder says:

    Thanks for raising this question. Will help me enlighten people about another aspect of accelerators.

    1. Accelerators are a 3D framework. The dimensions being – Mentors, Network and Exposure
    2. Different accelerators have different super powers. Some are good in one dimension and some are good in other.
    3. While GSF construct is great within India, 500 startups framework exposes you to the best in the world.
    4. With this as background, I hope the benefit of an accelerator is clear – Its not cash. Its the “kind”
    5. I wish you had done a bit more research on me and my startup, then whether we were able to raise, we raised or not, would have been clear. Anyway, we had raised our round in India itself before going for 500 startups.
    6. Lastly, my profile and my startup’s profile are one. I cannot build my profile separately from my startup. So building “my” profile by going to US of A, doesn’t make sense to me.

    Hope that answers 🙂

    Enjoy the #wheredowegonow tomorrow and day after, if you are visiting.

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