The Do’s and Don’ts of Acing a Pitch Competition

The Do's and Don'ts of Acing a Pitch Competition

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Earlier this week, techstars startup accelerator hosted a launch party at its New York location. A panel of judges heard arguments from seven founders or founding teams. The judges were Jay Levy, co-founder of Zelkova Ventures; KJ Signh, director of Techstars NYC; Jason Saltzman, co-founder of the Alley NYC co-working space; and Ray Hennessey, Contractoreditorial director of.

The companies featured were a diverse group: there was no clear thread that linked each location in terms of industry, and yet listening to them all one after the other shed some universal pointers on what to do and what to do. do not to master a pitch competition.

Here they are:

1. Examine all technological issues before presenting

Each presenter or presentation team used a PowerPoint slideshow to complete their pitch. The best were well-designed – the founders of the monthly subscription service Drift Away Coffee, for example, used a power point that was stylish and informative – but more importantly, they were consistent. When properly used, they reinforce the information transmitted verbally without distracting it. Unfortunately, several presenters have encountered technological problems. The slides skipped or were not arranged in the correct order. Not only did these problems distract from the quality of the pitch, but they also accumulated precious minutes while the presenters struggled to correct them on the fly.

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Before presenting, make sure that your slideshow and any other technological support are working properly. Show up early on the site and ask to give it a try, if possible. The worst thing that can happen is that your otherwise flawless presentation begins or ends with a technological hiccup.

2. Don’t highlight a lack of preparation

Because many pitch evenings are fairly informal, the presentation of an excessively buttoned presentation may appear stilted. That said, it’s never a good idea to waltz and announce that you haven’t prepared yourself at all, like a founder did. His presentation, although relaxed, went well until he casually announced “I had to throw this together at the last minute, sorry.”

This disposable comment was doubly wrong: it made it seem unprepared and showed disrespect for the judges’ time.

Life is coming. Circumstances may arise which prevent you from refining your presentation as much as you would have liked. But that doesn’t mean you have to announce your lack of preparation on stage.

3. Anticipate questions from judges and address them in your presentation

After each presentation, it is typical for judges to ask each presenter a few questions about their business.

During their presentation, the co-founders of TripExpert explained that their travel review site differs from competitors like TripAdvisor by basing its ratings only on professional reviews, not those generated by users.

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As a general rule, the time reserved for post-pitch questions is limited. Don’t waste any of this by asking judges to find out about the basic information that should have been addressed in the argument itself, such as relevant growth metrics, market opportunities, margins and competitors. industry. Try to incorporate this information into your presentation – not only will it make you look professional, but it will also free up the judges to be more specific in their questions in order to genuinely assess your business and provide constructive feedback.

4. Don’t answer a question that hasn’t been asked

Getting burnt by the judges right after your presentation can be a naturally disorienting experience. However, it is important to pay close attention to what is really asked: take a moment to digest each question before answering. You can ask a judge for clarification if you are not sure what he means. You want to avoid the following situation, in which a founder misinterpreted a question, gave a long answer, so that the judge rephrased his initial question. In the end, it was a waste of time and effort for both parties.

5. Clearly explain what your business is and the problem it solves.

While you appear before the judges – men and women who are probably steeped in startup acronyms and talk about business – you also generally present yourself to a more general audience of spectators. Either way, it’s a good idea to approach what your business is doing and the problem it solves in as clear and concise a language as possible in your introduction.

This level of clarity is a welcome relief from the locations in which the presenter ends his speech, only at the request of a judge: so what is your business really doing? It sounds silly, but it happens more often than you think.

Editor’s note: LikendisLike Media is an investor and partner of AlleyNYC, a co-working space in New York.

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