Since I’ll be moving, finishing my first week at my new job and attending a graduation this weekend, I will not be present at the third edition of Startup Weekend in Mexico City. However, this does not mean that my desire to have every single entrepreneur there kick some major ass has in anyway diminished. I decided not to go recently, however before that I had been doing some extensive research on the panel of judges (since I’m a hustler: my job mainly consists on wooing a panel), and even though this will be a star-filled event, I decided focusing efforts was the best idea. I believe, that the most intimidating and harsh judge on that panel will be Dave (hence, making him the one everyone will want to impress), so I researched him thoroughly and came up with a good guide on how to pitch for the money. I had friends pitch to him at Rackspace on a Startup Bus event. I can tell you: you’re in for a ride. But worry not, I am here to help, and hopefully this guide will get you in and out of that infamous pitch swinging. I’ll break it down by steps:
1. Get your game face on. Your job as a hustler (business end) is to sell a fucking amazing idea that gets the crowd excited to build it, and then sell the finished demo to investors. Chances are, your product will be far from where you want it to be when Sunday comes around. The panel does not know that, so focus on your strengths and fire up your presentation working around those.
2. When naming your product avoid names that are hard to write down, most likely judges will have ipads or iphones on them, and will search it as soon as it comes out of your mouth. Make sure to enunciate your URL as clearly as possible and avoid hyphens. No, really: avoid them or get bitched at.
3. Make a clean and USEFUL key note, starting out with a slide with your project’s name and URL is a really good idea.
4. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Chances are, judges will find holes and mistakes on your model, product, design, presentations… That’s what they do for a living, so please avoid taking constructive criticism like mothers take having their babies called ugly. Being defensive gets you nowhere (it may even get you laughed at). Startup Weekend is a learning experience and as harsh as it may sound all criticism is made in hopes of making your project better: Be open to critiques, encourage quality feedback, and make your audience and panel feel like you can be coached (this makes you way more valuable than being an annoying and bitchy know-it-all). A good tip is thanking everyone for their suggestions and saying you’ll keep them in mind, you can discard useless ones later in a more private scenario.
5. Speak. With. Conviction
6. Own that stage and know your shit, I wrote about the practical aspects of pitching (speaking in public) here, if you need extra tips or want some feedback before your big moment, you can facebook, twitter, skype or email me
Ok so this is the part you want to read carefully, since it was curated from a compilation of McClure’s elegantly titled presentation “How to Pitch a VC (AKA Startup Viagra: How to give a VC a hard-on)” and some variations of the same talk given at events world wide, so it’s as close to fool’s proof as I’ll get.
- When coming up with an idea, think pain-killer (the one drug you will not forget to buy, because it makes the sensation of a splitting skull go away) over vitamin (the one that’s good for you, but that you keep forgetting), find PAIN in the market, come up with a solution and think of your pitch as an advertisement of how you’re fixing the pain. If you do that correctly, you’ll have an AMAZING Startup Weekend pitch.
- In line with the previous one; if you’re not getting your client paid, made (successful) or laid (yes, this means sex). You’re doing it wrong.
- Niche niche niche. That’s it.
- Live demos are very tricky, and often fail. Either play it safe (with a video or screen shots) or go into it expecting it to fail.
- Keep it short and sweet. Do not term-drop (or, again, get bitched at). When in doubt: KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
- Stay AWAY from money projections, if you don’t have actual money, then make your “money shot” around your demo (screen shots and/ or video), not about how you plan to maybe one day become rich and famous…
- Go for the customers!! Use that last day to get out of the building and get people to try your stuff out. Read the next part out loud: Customer testimonials are awesome!
- Expect multiple interruptions and don’t expect sweetness and sugar coating. This is
- Make it fun! Think outside the box: get interpretative dancers, sing some of it, do it naked. Pitching is supposed to be fun so go put on a show! Close with a bang and leave them wanting more
- Original slides over here, READ THOSE. He covers everything with more detail, as well as financial aspects and details on business modeling.