The do's and don'ts for the perfect pitch

The do's and don'ts for the perfect pitch

05-Sep-2013 by Patrick de Zeeuw

Next week we will select the companies that will join us to be accelerated in the Startupbootcamp NFC & Contactless program during our Final Selection Days. These top-notch teams will be probed, questioned, and accommodated with tons of valuable feedback. They will pitch for two days back to back, and no matter the outcome: they will go home smarter, wiser, and better prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. Every invited team has a great idea, passionate members, and a mission to change the world with their concept. Out of all these talented people with their promising ideas, we, together with our mentors & partners, will select the winning teams.

So if you’re one of the teams pitching for us, or you’re a startup preparing for another pitch-event, how do you make the best impression? How do you make sure that your story sticks and that you inspire your audience in only a few short minutes? That is a real challenge, especially because pitching can be very stressful. According to research done by Seinfeld it actually is the worst fear we have, even worse than dying or sickness.

From personal experience I know the stress and worries pitching can cause. I understand that it can be difficult, but I also believe that it can be learned. As long as you show passion, you understand your target audience, and your pitch has a smart structure, you will succeed. The structure is a good point to start preparing your pitch and in our book, I’m Hungry, Ruud Hendriks and I have written a chapter about this. I will explain the structure we use with our teams when we prepare pitching to give you an example:

  1. You need to have a short and snappy introduction, in which you briefly explain who you are and what it is that you do: “My name is Patrick de Zeeuw, co-founder of Startupbootcamp. We accelerate tech startups. “
  2. Then you explain the problem, or “pain” that you and your company will solve: “The problem is that many startups don’t have a network, they have limited experience with entrepreneurship, and their product/concept is insufficiently validated with potential customers. At Startupbootcamp we help them with this. “
  3. How do you solve this pain? You need to explain your solution in a super clear and understandable way: “ In every city that we work, we have a network of 150 amazing mentors who help our startups grow better, faster, and smarter.”
  4. Now you explain your businessmodel, since this is how you will make money. It’s not a problem if you’re not a 100% sure about the model yet, as long as you know a few options: “For our excessive coaching, our network of mentors and investors, and our investment of €15.000, we get 8% of the Startups’ equity.”
  5. Next up you introduce your team, share a little bit of team history and talk about the roles you fulfill: “The Startupbootcamp team consists of very experienced entrepreneurs with backgrounds in the online- and media industry, we’ve all had our fair share of successes and failures.”
  6. Explain what kind of investment you’re looking for and why, what you will do with the money, and most importantly: the type of investor you want. Don’t just think about the money, consider other things an investor may bring you. “We are looking for experienced investors, holding a large network that can help Startupbootcamp grow. Investors who truly and passionately believe in Startups. Just like we do.”
  7. If you already have some deals, partnerships, testimonials from customers you should use them to strengthen your pitch, people like to hear success stories. Finally, Make sure you have a catchy and memorable pay-off to finish you pitch with: “Startupbootcamp has local and global partnerships with ABN AMRO, Axicom, Amazon, Vodafone, Microsoft, PwC, Adyen, CM, AVG.com and VMW Taxland. They believe in us, you as well? Startupbootcamp, The Global Accelerator”

Now you have a solid structure to build your pitch. This of course is a great starting point, but you’re not quite there yet. You still have to stand in front of an audience and share your story with them. For some additional inspiration and to help with your pitch, we have asked the best practices from people who really understand what you are going through. The people who know from first hand experience what you should expect. Whether it is for our Final Selection Days or for pitching in general, they have valuable know-how: Our class of 2013! They have gathered their knowledge, tips and tricks in a series of testimonials, which can help you rock your pitch.

Dimitry Gritsenko from Presentain explains what you should know about applying to an accelerator, and how to prepare yourself:

Dennis Duvauchelle from Twoodo tells from immediate experience how you should prepare for Final Selection Days and what to expect:

Michalis Mpoloudakis from Kinems explains why Amsterdam is a good place to launch your Startup and validate your product:

Tiffany Hart from 7Write explains why she chose Startupbootcamp and what it brought her:

Curious to see the Demoday pitches of our Class of 2013? You can download the Startupbootcamp App and see all the full pitches. Are you eager to know more about pitching, or do you want to practice your pitch with me? On the 20th of September Marc Wesselink, Startupbootcamp’s Global Alumni Growth Director, and I organize a Startupbootcamp Pitch 4 Coffee meetup. This is how it works: you come and join us for a nice cup of coffee and we will listen to your pitch, help you, and provide you with feedback. Its open for everyone, so don’t hesitate to share your ideas or your pitch with us. On September 16th the applications for Startupbootcamp Amsterdam 2014 will open, so get ready and start preparing your pitch and maybe you can join our program.

Good luck with pitching your startup and remember: the best is yet to come!

Patrick de Zeeuw

Patrick is a Co-founder of Startupbootcamp Amsterdam and board member of Startupbootcamp Global. He is an active angel investor, building media, online and mobile companies. Patrick was the former CEO of Endemol Belgium & Poland, the Founder of 3Circles Media, CCO of SBSnet, and MD of United Broadcast Facilities International and Unitedesign. He coaches Start-ups in the online & mobile industry and sits at the advisory Board at Netgamix & Mobitto.