Top 10 Pitch Guidelines
Clover Lewis reviews the recent The NextWomen Pitch Event and outlines some helpful tips for pitchpreneurs from the experts on the judging panel.
You have a winning product or service, a killer business strategy, an exceptional team… and now you need investment to move your business to realise greater aims. How can you assure that when you have the opportunity to speak to ‘business angels’ and investors your content and delivery stand out enough to have them fund you?
By participating in The NextWomen’s Pitch Event, as either a guest or pitch-entrepreneur, you can get closer to perfecting your pitch monologue and have engaging dialogues with investors who may be in a position to offer capital to support business growth.
Hosted by The NextWomen’s UK Editor, Maila Reeves, the Pitch Evening is a popular event in the The NextWomen’s calendar. Held at the slick London offices of the event sponsor Orrick, this unique event has two levels of participation: as either a guest or a ‘pitchpreneur’.
Attend as a paying guest and hear keynote speeches that will inspire you, network to increase your business profile, and have the chance to sit in on actual investment pitches.
Evening guests connect with The NextWomen’s community and learn about investment pitching through observation.
It is, however, the next level of involvement that one experiences the unique selling point of this event: attend as a pitchpreneur, and pitch to a selection of experienced Investors on a judging panel. That is, after attending a pitch-perfecting workshop lead by an expert coach. This unique format ensures each pitchpreneur shines whilst presenting that same evening. The chance to be a NextWomen’s pitcheneur is open to female business founders of early startups to more established companies aiming to expand.
100% of all previous pitchpreneurs all said ‘Yes!’ They would do it all again for the professionalism and organization of the event.
With that in mind I took my place as an observer for this blog post, I felt certain that I was attending something great.
In preparation for the day, each pitchpreneur is instructed to carefully structure their pitch and slides to guidelines circulated prior to the event.
Participants then continue to develop their presentations with peers under the expert gaze of Pitch Workshop Leader Hanadi Jabado (currently Director of Accelerate Cambridge, Cambridge Judge Business School). Firm, direct and fair, Hanadi is a great enabler.
Each founder was instructed on how to improve her pitch delivery, shape content (including the best order of presenting the visual information) and avoid common ‘pitching pitfalls’.
Having had experience in advising 100+ start-ups to success, as well as founding her own businesses in several industries, Hanadi’s input was expert, supportive, anecdotal and well received. I spoke with several participants afterwards and all expressed increased confidence in their presentation and impact having listened to her advice, and felt ready to take on the panel.
Later that evening, after two inspiring Keynote speeches (from Dana Al Salem of Fanshake and Brynne Herbert of Move Guides) each pitchpreneur presented a more polished version of their presentation, working the room and engaging with the audience and investor panel, whilst sharing their business passion and aims within short six minute slots. The panel questions were handled professionally, with each founder receiving generous advice from the panel of investors.
It was remarkable how the caliber of each pitch was elevated after completing the workshop and incorporating Hanadi's feedback.
To be honest, I would strongly suggest founders of start-ups - like myself - attend The NextWomen’s Pitch to Investors’ event to as a pitchenpreneur to experience how to sculpt a sound business pitch and gain rare exposure to the world of investment pitching. The skillful combination of a group workshop, a fundamental ‘Pitch for Investment’ presentation, one-to-one consultation with an expert pitching coach, the encouraging support of the hostess Maila and the opportunity to pitch to a helpful and not-too-scary panel of investors – it all seems an extremely rich opportunity for the nominal fee charged (£75.00).
Until then, let me share my top 10 The NextWomen’s Pitch to Investors’ guidelines gleaned from attending the event, all of which I personally am applying when looking to raise cash investment for my start-up, Clover Lewis Swimwear (watch this space!):
Top 10 Pitch Guidelines
1. Pre-event preparation – is key
- Know your 60 second elevator pitch!
- Research each investor on the panel and prepare answers to the questions they may ask.
- You must stick to the format or criteria of the event – straying off course will only indicate to the host and panel you’ve not paid attention to their instructions – not a good start!
- Get your energy flowing, work this into your delivery by moving about the room and using the space – which is yours for the duration of your presentation!
- Engage with the panel and your audience, and link intriguing questions for them to your presentation to pique interest
- Get excited! If you're not excited by your business, then how on earth can investors be?
- Avoid preparing wordy slides – illustrative slides are far more engaging and effective
- Have your important financial details - with clear details of revenue models, financial details etc. - on one slide and display this at the end of your pitch for investors to discuss
- Slides are prompts not a props, do not over rely on PowerPoint to tell your story
4. Why you?
- Personalise your pitch! Share a flowing story of who you are, and your Big Why - why you set up the company. People own businesses – let your personality come across in your delivery!
- Stories open up connections and feelings in the listener - make yours powerful and evocative; let your passion for business shine through your pitch.
- Share a story that includes the problem or pain point and how your company resolves it. Demonstrate a clear understanding of your target market’s pain point, and be imaginative in describing how you create a solution.
6. Milestones and achievements
- Highlight your awards, previous investments, press, collaborations, your amazing team - any positive activity helps to demonstrate your successes so far to give your company appeal
7. Social enterprise
- If your business has a social enterprise aspect to it highlight this. It humanises the business and gives it added value and purpose.
8. Your team
- Is your team doing a great job? Share this! Investors need to feel confident not only in you but the team whom will help you develop and deliver your business aims.
9. What is the Future?
- What are you going to do with investors’ money or time? Be prepared to explain what investment you desire and how you intend to use it.
- Run out of time? Anything missed during the presentation may be worked into your responses at Q & A time (where appropriate)
Clover Lewis, is the Founder and Director of a unique startup, Clover Lewis Swimwear - Confidence-boosting swimwear for women after breast cancer surgery or size differences. A Fine Art graduate of St Martins College of Art London, she worked in Film and TV before earning her BSc (Hons) to work as a Women's Health Physiotherapist. Clover holds the view that fashion needs to evolve into a vehicle women with unique bodies can use to develop and express confidence, control, and self-image. She now freelances as a Lingerie and Swimwear Designer whilst developing her brand, Clover Lewis Swimwear.
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