Marketing yourself in your pitch, tips, potential questions and more
In this blog you will learn best practice for marketing yourself in your pitch when seeking investment. The tips and advice in this blog below are based on pitches that four early stage entrepreneurs gave to a judging panel at Enterprise Tuesday at the Cambridge Judge Business School.
Introducing the panel and entrepreneurs
Listening to real life examples and questions was very useful. There’s no doubt about it, the process isn’t easy. However, this blog shares the tips of the evening so that other entrepreneurs can benefit.
On the judging panel were:
- Mandy Cavert, CEO & Founder of Quince Consultancy, a life sciences consultancy. Mandy is a member of the Cambridge Judge Advisory Board
- John Lee, CFO of Display Link and Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Fellow
- Andy Phillips, Founder of Active Venture Fund and Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Fellow
The entrepreneurs pitching were:
- Orca Scan – bar coding technology that enables companies to save time tracking the status of their assets at any one point in time. Orca Scan helps companies do away with cumbersome, tedious spreadsheets.
- Legal Sphere – an online legal platform allowing lawyers and their clients to collaborate online.
- Capito.ai – custom built voice search to improve the convenience factor for customers quickly looking for a product.
- Swift Molecular Diagnostics – fast diagnostic devices that save time and money using DNA to detect disease.
All four entrepreneurs had been through the Judge Business School’s Accelerate Programme. The programme offers a structured approach that combines entrepreneurship training, regular coaching and mentoring. The entrepreneurs gave 3 minute presentations so were required to explain their concepts succinctly. They also had to persuade and win over the audience and investors over in a very quick time frame.
For examples of presentations from well known companies that have been successful in attracting investment see these examples. You can see what Airbnb put in its pitch deck here.
There shouldn’t be too much on the slides and the font needs to be a good size as is apparent in these templates. When marketing yourself in your pitch, branding is important. Entrepreneurs need to invest some money in creating a brand identity and look and feel for all their collateral. People make judgements very quickly so it is important to impress at every opportunity. The logo and look and feel need to reflect the brand values of the company. A strap line can be created to add weight.
Speak in layman’s terms and define the business problem and the solution
All four entrepreneurs pitching did not use too much jargon. The audience was able to easily understand what business problems their companies addressed. The audience could also understand how the concepts provided a solution. Investors want to understand the pain pressure of potential customers, so it is important to show evidence that the business problem is clearly articulated.
Most importantly, the entrepreneurs were able to demonstrate key tangible business benefits. Capito.ai actually demonstrated the technology in front of the audience. Everyone was really impressed with how the voice search was able to find products quickly and easily.
John from Display Link advised entrepreneurs to state the Why, Who, When, What, Where and How. Remembering these terms will help you cover the basics and provide all the information that could be needed.
Provide evidence of credibility and how customers derive value
A couple of the entrepreneurs said things that made them very credible. For example, Swift Molecular Diagnostics said that it had been working with AstroZeneca. Orca Scan said that its technology could disrupt Honeywell. Capito.ai showed how it was working with a major fast food supplier. Investors are looking for credibility, evidence of working with blue chip companies or simply that traction is being achieved.
Entrepreneurs should demonstrate how customers derive value from a product or service. They should show that they can build a company that people will love and be prepared to switch to if there are strong incumbent competitors. This means showing how a company could disrupt the market. It also means demonstrating how for example technology is potentially superior, in terms of features and business benefits. You will need to be able to say how you think your product or service is unique vis-a-vis competitors. As Mandy said, the product or service needs to be “rare and valuable”.
Investors may have done online searches before the pitch so it is good to preempt this and prepare responses regarding competitors. Investors will be thinking about the future so it is important to show how you have protected you idea with a patent if necessary. Evidence of gaining a patent can go a long way.
Fully understand your numbers
You have probably seen entrepreneurs on Dragons Den falter when it comes to understanding their financials. It is important to fully understand your numbers and things like the size of the addressable market. You will need to show that you know you know your turnover, expenses and profit and what this will be going forward. You will need to think what you will do if you run out of money and have a Plan B. This means planning for the worst but hoping for the best. If your financials show a hockey curve, then you need to explain how you will achieve this.
Keep switched on before and after the pitch
The judging panel advised entrepreneurs not to let their guard down throughout the pitch process. This means that you need to be mindful that you are marketing yourself in your pitch before and after the pitch. It means be careful about giving throw away comments that could be heard. It means being careful about how you would spend investors’ money too. For example, if you say that you had taken a first class train somewhere, investors might think that an entrepreneur is not money wise.
Show your passion
Your enthusiasm can go a long way in attracting potential investors when marketing yourself in your pitch. Passion has the ability to change opinions. Ben from Swift Molecular Diagnostics gave a fantastic pitch and his enthusiasm really shone through. Therefore during your elevator pitch, it is important to communicate your enthusiasm as well as the essential facts. You will need to use this to persuade people to work for you rather than more established, larger companies.
Investors will not only question whether their investment will be worthwhile but also whether they could work with someone. The investors therefore said that it is important for entrepreneurs to be likeable when marketing themselves in their pitches. They don’t want to see arrogance when marketing yourself in your pitch.
Show your route to market
When stating your ‘how’ it is good to mention what your route to market will be. Will you be selling through affiliates, direct or in retail outlets? If you can own parts of the value chain, all the better. This is what Tesla are doing with their own show rooms, rather than 3rd party dealerships. Owning the supply chain allows a company to gain strategic advantage over competitors.