Ask Yourself These Questions to Craft a Good Pitch

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I used to advocate a perfect pitch. Now I settle for good enough. Why? Because startups or scaleups fetishize the pitch far too much. A perfect pitch will not save a shitty product or a service nobody needs or cares about. But a bad pitch can bury a product that is good enough. So… I settle for good enough pitch. The two variables you need to work when crafting a good enough pitch are: (a) to be interesting and (b) to be understood.

Basically when you pitch my brain (and any other brain out there listening to your best efforts) operates somewhere on the scales of:

  • totally uninteresting – interesting AF
  • I totally do not get it – I totally get it.

The best case scenario would be to land on the „I totally understand it and I find it so interesting” end of the scale. And it turns out it is not that difficult.

Quite recently I have tried out new technique when working with startups of the KPT Scale Up acceleration program. I based it around questions. And those questions were based on the semantic and functional analysis of more than 500 pitches from different competitions and Demo Days like Techcrunch, Wolves Summit, ABC Acceleration Demo day and so on. The drill is simple – the person presenting just stands in front of the group without any prior preparation. No slides, no notes. Total improvisation. He or she may only use the knowledge they do posses about their project or idea.

I ask the questions and they have to answer each one using as little words and as much informationas possible. No „weeds”, no „marketing bulsshit bingo”. It should be simple, understood and… interesting. It turns out that the answers to those questions form a decent pitch they can later on work upon. So I advise they take notes or record the whole thing. The questions are as follows:

Why now is the best time to implement your idea?

By that I mean why is the high time to really make things happen. Is the world changing? Is there a trend you can ride on? Is technology finally here? Or maybe there is some legislative around the corner that actually helps your idea. The answer should hint the urgency of YOUR action. The time is now! It’s the opportunity that speaks the most.

The opportunity can be linked to some problem or challnege. What is the problem you are solving?

Here I’m waiting for hardcore proof. I mean numbers, trends and metrics that you present that help me realise there is problem and that solving this problem is a true business opprotunity.

How are people coping now?

Obviously they are somehow. So list the 3 possible ways people are trying to cope with the problem they have. Maybe they don’t need you solving their problems. Some sceptics will say… well the world have survived somehow. And that leads us to next question whtich is:

What sucks about the way people solve the problem right now? 

List no more that 3 things that suck the most about the current solutions. The world NOW is obvously not a perfect place.

What should be done?

Here you hint the idea of the solution. It is not the solution itself. It is the IDEA of the solution. Give the audience the chance to almost come up with the idea WITH you. This way you promote something that is called in psychology the IKEA effect.

What are we doing?

Now we know what should be done and WE (the startup) are doing it. This is our solution. It’s worth stating the Value Propositon here. It’s time to reaveal the solution. And answer the following questions…

What are the main benefits of the solution?

What are the key markets for this solution?

How does it work? 

How are we making money on it?

Who is the team behind it?

What has been done so far and what are the next steps?

This is time to talk about the milestones and be proud of what you have achieved so far. And to clearly state what challenges are ahead of you to then state…

What do you need to actually take those next steps?

The answer might be stating the funding goals or simply stating any other specific needs.

Then you finish it with a nice sum up. I recommend the message map I discuss here. And voila, you crafted yourself a good enough pitch! Now add the slides when needed and go pitch! Good luck!