Pitching is an essential skill for any entrepreneur or business professional. Successful pitching requires a combination of research and persuasion skills. It involves understanding the needs and interests of a target audience, as well as being able to communicate a message clearly and concisely.
As with any business, marketing and pitching go hand in hand. To pitch an idea effectively, one must first come up with an idea that is marketable and in demand. Then, with this in mind, the aim is to find solutions to people’s daily problems.
Practice pitching as much as possible
The (Re)-Startup pre-incubator program at Haaga-Helia culminates in a Demo Day event, where an expert panel evaluates business ideas. The Demo Day event aims to validate the value propositions, business models, expertise, and overall concepts created by the teams during the program. In addition, the pitch event is designed to provide the team with feedback and opportunities on funding, mentors, customers, team members, or advisors.
A thoughtfully prepared presentation and cohesive pitch often receives positive feedback in competitions. Additionally, the questions asked by the judges provide a new perspective on the business idea. Based on our experience, we recommended that everyone with an idea pitches it to as many audiences as possible.
Essential steps to follow when crafting a pitch
When crafting a pitch, there is a specific structure to consider. Following it ensures the effectiveness of a pitch. (Haaga-Helia StartUp School Pitching Guidebook 2018)
Customer problem: A vital part of the pitch is to describe the customer’s problem and its extent. This way, the listener gets a clear understanding of the problem, is able to empathize with the customer and can estimate the number of potential customers.
Solution: A straightforward solution to the problem should be presented. The solution should be explained so that anyone understands it and without too much detailed information.
Value: It is essential to tell the listeners how a product differs from others and why it is the best solution to the problem presented.
Business Model: The backbone of the business idea is relevant, i.e. what is being sold, through which channels, where the money comes from, and where the costs come from. This section of the pitch can be challenging. It’s good to define the future price point of the product or service.
Competitors: A clear list of competitors is necessary. Homework must be done well to be able to answer usual questions as Has anyone else had this idea? or What do competing companies do?. It may be good to analyze competing products and services and determine the key competitors in a quadrant with the characteristics compared to the business idea.
Team: It is essential to show who are behind the business idea, but only after starting with the problem and product. The audience needs to understand the concept and why the team is the right one to develop it. Work experience and networks interest the audience.
Roadmap: A presentation of what has been done to develop the idea and what is happening next is required to convince the listener. Hence, it is important to present achievements, future actions and credible goals. This tells the audience that the idea is well considered and developed with a clear plan in mind.
Request or Call-to-Action: This vital part of the pitch tells the audience what is wanted from it. Often in pitch competitions, investors are present and this is the part where the amount of investment money being sought is stated. Other call-to-actions may be to ask for new team members or mentors to help develop the business further.
The reality is, that we never know when it is the right place and the right time. This can only be determined by presenting the very effectively structured idea as often as possible. The clearer the message is, the more likely it is that the concept will resonate.