The term “pitch” is one that we hear often in the start-up space. Everybody seems to be constantly “pitching”. It has nothing to do with an outdoor playing area for sports, like a football pitch. So what is it?

What is a business pitch?

In short, a business pitch is a presentation of a business idea to potential investors (start-up pitch), business partners or customers (sales pitch). The pitch will look a bit different depending on the purpose and the target audience. We focus here on the pitch for potential investors. Entrepreneurs and start-up founders are important for the Othership community and we organise a monthly pitch event, where they can present their ideas to real angel investors, or watch others pitch and learn from them.

This type of business pitch is usually accompanied by a pitch deck that contains the core information about the business idea and makes the presentation a bit more visual. The usual pitch is between 5 and 10 minutes. Depending on the event you’re pitching at there might be an exact time limit. You should check this beforehand, and you might have to make changes to your investor pitch.

The goal of such a business pitch is to attract investors and secure funding. Therefore, it is important that your pitch is convincing and it should explain what your business idea is about, which problem you are solving and how you are going to solve that problem.

Start-up founder presenting his business idea

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What is an elevator pitch?

The term elevator pitch refers to a very short pitch that would fit in the time slot of an elevator ride. It is usually 30 to 60 seconds long – depending on the floor you’re going to. We heard in the interview with investor Sam Keisner that he was once pitched to during a taxi ride. In that case we could probably refer to it as the cab pitch, an advanced form of the elevator pitch.

You sometimes see it at networking events that people do an elevator pitch – it needs to be short and crisp but should still contain the crucial information about your business idea.

If you think now that 60 seconds is too short to explain all your ideas, think again! You don’t have to tell the whole story of your business. Focus on the most important aspects: The problem you are solving and how you are going to solve it. If you can’t summarize this in 60 seconds, your idea might be too complex, and chances are that potential investors won’t understand it – even if you have 5 minutes to explain.

What the pitch deck should contain

The pitch deck is a visual presentation to support what you are going to say during your start-up pitch. It is hence the outline for your pitch. The following information should be part of your pitch and your deck:

  1. Introduction: Tell the audience who you are and what your business is about (in short!). You can include your unique value proposition.
  2. Problem: Which problem are you going to solve with your business idea? Tell potential investors why the world would be a better place if your product goes to market.
  3. Target audience: Who and where is your market? You should include information about the competition in that market, the market size and the opportunity.
  4. The solution to the problem: You wouldn’t leave the problem that your audience faces unsolved, would you? This is a very important part of your business pitch. Potential investors want to see the “how”. How are you going to solve the problem you discovered in the market? Also important in this part is that you show that you are able to solve the problem and why it is you that should solve it and not somebody else. This also refers to how easily your solution could be replicated by another business.
  5. Initial traction: In this section, you would highlight any data you have that could prove how the target audience will react to your product or service. Maybe you conducted surveys or early user testing. If you have an MVP, take it to the market and start collecting data.
  6. Marketing strategy: How are you going to raise awareness for your product or service? For investors, this is the part where you can show how well you understand your target audience.
  7. Competition: This part of your business pitch will not only show who your competitors are but also the ways in which you are different. Emphasize the USP of your product or service.
  8. Team: Show potential investors who you are and who you work with. Point out experiences and skills that support the fact that you are the best possible team to solve that problem!
  9. Financials: If you have any financial projections, include them in your pitch deck. We have heard from investors though that this is of minor importance for pre-seed funding. In most cases, you won’t have reliable figures and all calculations will be broad estimates. If you have figures to show, make sure you explain where these are coming from!
  10. Funding: For some reason, this is the part most founders forget in their pitch decks. Tell potential investors how much money you need and what you need it for! Not knowing these figures during a business pitch will make you look unprofessional, and angels won’t take you seriously, no matter how good your idea is!
Sticky notes with a checklist to find investors

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

How to pitch

The elements of your pitch deck are at the same time the outline for your presentation. The visuals and the words you say should go hand in hand. There are a few more tips that will help you make it a success.

  1. Dress for success
  2. Pay attention to your body language
  3. Seek eye contact with your audience (if you pitch online: look into the camera)
  4. Be confident and enthusiastic, but humble
  5. Focus during your investor pitch
  6. Don’t take things personally
  7. Anticipate questions and have answers ready
  8. Practice your pitch
  9. Refine your pitch based on questions and feedback you receive

One last thing to keep in mind is that even though you are talking to angel investors, and you are asking them for money, they are also just humans. If you want to get to know them better, have a look at the interviews we conducted with angel investors like Andrew Davidson and Clint Greaves and you will see that they breathe the same air as every single one of us!

If you are still feeling a bit unsure, why not join our monthly investor pitch event as a visitor before you stand in front of the panel?

Find out more

PS: There are lots of entrepreneurs and founders in the Othership community and they’re always happy to answer any questions you might have!

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