It is inevitable that a new company will at some point have to raise capital, and this means that you will have to plead your case to investors. Not many new business founders think about the enormous role that pitching plays in your business’ success, but it really is an aspect of startups that should not be belittled.
One of my favorite parts of the ARK Challenge Business Accelerator was the intense pitch coaching. Knowing the importance of refining these skills, we had regular pitch practice sessions, a pitch retreat at the Rockefeller Retreat Center and the opportunity to train with Permjot Valia, a world-class pitch coach. Permjot, an ARK Challenge Mentor, is a serial entrepreneur who worked for Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Services in London, founded Help with Sales, and co-founded a fund management business called Flight & Partners Ltd. Aside from these outstanding credentials, he also happens to be one the most genuine and humble people you’ll ever meet.
From all of the great lessons he taught me as a young entrepreneur, I asked him to boil them down to a few essentials for someone new to pitching. These were his three key tips:
Grab Their Attention
No one wants to give money to a forgettable presenter, so grab their attention! But do it in a constructive way and on your own terms. Permjot suggests grabbing their attention by stressing the problem in the way that most people can understand. The investor might not suffer from the problem that your product is solving, so it is imperative that you present the problem in a relatable fashion, making them understand that your solution is valuable.
Something Permjot stressed to me specifically was to “show them you witnessed the problem first-hand and had a commitment to solve it.” People respond very positively when they see familiarity in how your idea came to fruition. For me, Permjot stressed that I show the story of a nurse who was sick of inflicting pain upon my patients and desired a better device to provide them solace.
Own the Stage
Talk to the audience; move around! Not only does it keep their attention, purposeful movements can help convey tone. If there is a more intimate part of your pitch, move to the front of the stage; lean in. If you’re referencing a graphic on a slide, move to the side and let their eyes hit the graphic. I suggest watching Steve Jobs unveil and pitch new Apple products; he was great at calmly commanding stage presence.
Other than these three tips, remember not to use complicated jargon, never ask rhetorical questions, and enjoy it!