3 tips for a successful startup pitch
By Caroline Gong | 2022 Marketing Intern
July 18, 2022
Demo Day is right around the corner, and our 2022 LaunchX teams are busy iterating their products, lining up sales, and refining their goals. We dedicate this last day to celebrate and share the progress all of our students have made. Demo Day is also a great opportunity for students to pitch a developed version of their startup and gain feedback from a panel of expert entrepreneurs. Pitching, however, is a learned skill, so our LaunchX instructors have broken it down into three easy parts to help young entrepreneurs improve.
Tip #1 – Identifying Your Problem
Entrepreneurship is rooted in problem-solving, and businesses are made to make our lives easier. Therefore, you should immediately state the problem your venture intends to solve. Think of your problem statement as a thesis. Especially for lay customers, describing the issue you are addressing is more convincing than describing the technical components of your product. For investors and partners, the problem statement is just as important because you want to ensure that all parties share similar values and visions. As lead instructor Scott Christianson says, “…Make it very clear, the problem that you’re addressing and how you’re addressing it early and often…Reiterate how you’re solving that problem and then back that up with data…”
Tip #2 – Emphasizing Your “Why”
Along with your problem statement, it is critical that you explain why this problem is worth solving.
Pitching can be very daunting because many entrepreneurs, especially those who are less experienced, are afraid of the feedback they might get. To dispel this uncertainty, it is best to think of feedback as opening doors, doors that will provide different resources and opportunities. The best that can happen is that your business idea is great. The worst would be that someone disagrees. That is why the “why” behind your startup is crucial.
The feedback you get from presenting your “why” determines whether or not the issue you are addressing is viable. If listeners agree with your business idea, then that means your problem is serious and needs to be resolved as soon as possible. However, if your audience disagrees, it is your job to follow-up and have constructive conversations with them. That way, you can find ways to improve your startup idea or discover avenues to pivot towards.
Tip #3 – Telling Your Story
In an interview with Pamela Sanford, another one of our lead instructors, she says a startup’s “why” determines its impacts and can allow for personal, empathetic connections.
With more and more contemporary research being done, empathy and organic interpersonal growth has shown to be crucial to a business’ development and traction. Another instructor, Pedro Gomes, backs up Sanford’s belief and says, “Have a great story, attach some emotional values to it…” Pathos is a powerful public speaking mechanism, and storytelling taps into that and is an easy way to retain your audience’s attention. Storytelling is applicable no matter who you are pitching too, and it also provides personal context that others may find relatable.
The story you tell should not only be relevant to the problem you are solving, but it should also demonstrate how your product would improve what where previously horrible experiences. As a result, you can state and expand on both your problem statement and your value proposition.
Pitching is arguably the most crucial skill an entrepreneur should possess. Entrepreneurs pitch ideas throughout the entire startup process, so it is important for aspiring teenagers to get in as much practice as possible. Public speaking is a large hurdle for many of us, but if we re-frame a business pitch as a tale with a clear beginning and a happy ending, then it becomes easier to digest for both the entrepreneur and their audience.
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