Fashion For Change

7 Pitching Tips for Startups

Knowing how to build a pitch deck and pitch a startup is essential to the company’s success. As the Demo Day of the Fashion For Change Project is approaching when 24 startup teams will be pitching on the stage for the investors and industry experts, let us introduce 7 pitching tips that will help your company to nail your pitch.

1. Tell your startup story.

Investors listen to hundreds of pitches per year while 1000+ pitch decks are created every day. Thus, you should want to make your pitch memorable. Compelling narratives of the pitch deck have a magical way of holding your audience’s attention, which means that your pitch deck should not just be a dry presentation of facts and figures but answer questions such as “why are you doing this?”; “what’s the story of how you developed your idea?”; “what challenges did you face and what have you learned from that experience?”. Use these kinds of stories and engage the audience with your startup story.

2. Sell the problem, not the solution.

Ideas and solutions alone are cheap. The usual mistake made by startups is that they are spending too much time explaining their solution and its technicalities and less time talking about the actual problem. It should go vice versa – a founder first needs to show to the audience that the solution solves a huge and painful problem and that the founder and the team understand that problem more deeply than anyone else and are uniquely qualified to solve it. While thinking about this, you can ask yourself a question: “is my solution a painkiller, vitamin, or candy?”. You should know that painkillers always win over vitamins and candies.

3. Know your audience and explain the obvious.

Or in other words “read your room”. It is significant to put in the shoes of the audience that will be listening to you before preparing your pitch deck. Your audience could be investors, potential clients, future employees, and potential users and you want to talk about the things that are important for them to hear and talk in the language that they understand. When you live and breathe an idea, it’s easy to overestimate how easy it is for others to understand. Thus, it’s always better to avoid using industry jargon or complex terms that your audience may not be familiar with. A good pitch is accessible to everyone, to double-check this you can practice your pitch on a friend or family member who’s not involved in your work.

4. Use specific details instead of vague language.

Founders usually use words and buzzwords such as “innovative”, “significant”, “disrupting”, “sustainable”, “AI”, “blockchain” etc. Usually they use those buzzwords as a replacement for actual, real examples of what their products are actually doing. Any investor will believe more in the statement that says “77% of consumers are ready to change their consumption habits to reduce their negative impact on the environment” than “consumers demand sustainability”. Being specific can be hard, but that is essential for your audience to grab on the real examples so they would remember your pitch.

5. Show traction and progress.

According to TechCrunch investors spend more than double the time on the financials slide than on the solution slide. Thus, when telling a startup’s story, you don’t want to forget the key figures: how much money your startup needs to raise, what your current overhead is, the point you need to reach to be profitable, what your timetable for achieving profitability is.

It might be the case that your startup is in an early stage and doesn’t have any existing financials to report. In this scenario, you can show the forecast financials which allows you to create the narrative and demonstrate possible returns. Other examples that could show that you proved the concept could be the positive feedback you got from the discovery calls with your clients, no. of sign-ups for the demo version, social media campaign results, etc. Any audience will want to see that your company is gaining momentum and growing.

6. Impact metrics are as important as financial ones.

While showing the financial figures, don’t forget to include your startups existing or potential impact metrics. The audience needs to understand what positive impact your startup’s product or service is creating on the planet and society as well as whether this impact can be scalable or not. While thinking about the impact slide on your pitch deck you can ask yourself questions like “what are the key impact areas of my startup?”; “which United Nations Sustainable Development Goals my startup is addressing?”; “what are my startup key impact metrics that I’m tracking, planning to track?”.

7. End with a clear call to action.

Before pitching you should be very clear on what you are looking for – are you looking for investment, new potential B2B clients, test users, advisors, feedback, new team members, or something else? Your pitch should end with a clear call to action (CTA) so the audience wouldn’t be left with questions such as “so what?” or “what should I do?” as you need to be the one telling them what to do next.

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