Are you an early-stage startup preparing for a potentially business-changing pitch? Here are some top tips from mentors in the Startupbootcamp Berlin programme, who are in the perfect position to give advice after spending the weekend listening to over 20 pitches…
1) Tell a personal story
Blinkist‘s Head of Communications Sebastian Rumberg found that startups spend too much time and effort on proving their point using figures and graphs. Instead, you should try to focus on one message, cut the excessive buzzwords, and put a story in the middle of your argument – one that’s personal will likely be the most engaging.
You only have a very small window to make an impression on your audience, so grab their attention early by connecting with their emotions. After all, people tend to make decisions, such as liking a business idea, based almost entirely on gut instinct and then tend to retroactively decide on a logical reason for it.
2) “Have a vision”
That’s what Jonas Piela, former CTO of Suxeedo, finds most engaging when hearing from young companies. He’s convinced that “people buy it for why you do it, and not what you do”. What impresses him most is when a startup says “this is our vision and we believe in…” Additionally, it’s important to communicate how your product reflects company values and beliefs.
3) First impressions really count
Hubraum‘s Head of Business Development Gaurav Singh makes up his mind about a company mostly based on the pitch rather than the conversation that happens afterward, which usually only provides about 20 per cent of what he wants to know.
It may sound obvious, but when you do get in front of an investor or mentor, make sure you’ve done your research so you can quickly get down to business. Ask relevant questions and don’t repeat the pitch you did on stage: “Just summarise your idea in two or three sentences to make sure everyone has a mutual understanding, then you can see whether they have questions for you.”
4) Acknowledge doubts
Business angel Tobias Wittich says the first thing you should do when you get a one-to-one session with an investor or a potential mentor is ask them, “Why wouldn’t you invest in me?” Provoke them into voicing their concerns: “They really have to give intelligent answers to that question, and you can reflect on the feedback.”
Also, he thinks it’s okay to admit your own doubts in a one-on-one conversation because this gives you more credibility – you’re also only human.
5) Proofread, proofread, proofread
Lastly, Wittich advises getting someone to check for spelling or grammar mistakes in your presentation. After rehearsing your pitch late at night, you’ll need fresh eyes to catch the small errors and someone who’ll be honest with you.
This article first appeared on Venture Village, a news site reporting on the European tech startup scene.