When Dave Mandell, Techstars Managing Director VentureVooDoo Partners and PBC mentor, got up to speak at PBC Denver, he got everyone’s attention pretty quickly.
“NO ONE gives a shit what you do,” said Mandell. “People make decisions based on emotion.” And it all starts with The Pitch.
The pitch is critical. It’s how you talk to your customers, talk to investors, and how you keep your team focused. Mandell knows what he’s talking about. The serial entrepreneur launched PivotDesk in 2012 with a pitch started out like this:
“We’re a technology enabled real estate platform that enables monthly transactions based on a 30-day renewable license agreement between hosts and guest companies.”
SNOOZE. That’s what he does. So he asked himself, instead, how the company was going to make customers’ lives better. And the pitch evolved into this:
“Real estate is static. Businesses are dynamic. When you are out there busting your ass to build your business, the last thing you should do is bet your business on a five-year lease when you don’t know how big you are going to be three to five months from now. And when you do have to commit to that lease, you should be able to offset the space you are not using to drive value for your business, hire a developer or add more marketing value. That’s what PivotDesk does. PivotDesk helps you grow your business the way it should grow, not the way real estate dictates. By matching you up with real companies that have a good cultural match with you and put you in a relationship where you are share space for as long as it works for both sides.”
Quite a difference.
“My first pitch sucked,” said Chloe Kettell, Co-founder and CEO of PolyPort, a 3D asset protection platform. “I was stuck in my own head and couldn’t explain how my product worked in 30 seconds.”
Figuring out the pitch was part of the reason Kettell attended PBC in Denver in 2017. “It was the catalyst for everything,” said Kettell. “It’s an amazing community.”
Today, her pitch deck is a living document that she edits constantly.
“Every time I’m going to give my pitch, I research the audience and tailor it to my audience,” said Kettell. And perhaps more importantly, she takes feedback from listeners (i.e., investors) very seriously and encourages fellow entrepreneurs to do the same.
“Dig in and get specifics,” said Kettell.
Here are a few things to remember so you can Rock the Pitch:
1) NO ONE gives a shit what you do.
2) People make decisions based on emotions, not logic.
3) Talk to the pain that a customer is dealing with and back it up with logic. Understand the pain and addressing the pain let’s you connect emotionally.
4) Know your target audience. Know them well!
5) What’s your value proposition? What’s the solution to their problem? Not what you do, but how you are going to make the pain go away.
6) Define your competition. Who is else is challenging you for their time? And what does their pitch look like?
7) Differentiate yourself and explain why YOU are different.
8) Give your pitch to anyone who will listen! Or stand in front of the mirror and give it.
9) Can a 5-year old understand it?
10) Don’t be a robot!
Kettell said that putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, like pitch competitions, are valuable experiences.
“You’ll find yourself in uncomfortable situations all the time when you are running your own business, so you better get used to it,” said Kettell.