The Nine Components of a Perfect Pitch

The entrepreneur lives to pitch — the thrill of sharing your story, recognizing the nuanced feedback signals from your audience, persuading them to support your idea. You have a great product, so you’re ready to go into that meeting and tell investors all about it, right? Not quite. Your story, rather than product is the star of your pitch. Instead of sharing how something works, focus on why it matters. In the latest Ignite Startup Workshop, Preston L. James shared some of his key components of winning pitches.

  1. Your Purpose. Briefly explain why your product/service should exist. This should include a succinct, simple mission and vision statement that drives home the fundamental reason why you believe in your company.
  2. The Problem and Solution. Define the problem and clearly show how your product solves this uniquely.
  3. Differentiation — Your Unfair Advantage. This is your chance to shine! Dig into what sets you apart and more importantly WHY it matters. You may be less expensive than a competitor, but this likely isn’t a strong enough differentiation point.
  4. The Market and Competition. Ideally, you’ve done some market validation. Always reference third-party analysts and statistics when discussing the total available market and serviceable market size. Be optimistic, yet realistic on market share forecasts. Choose 3–5 competitors and explain key traits that give you the winning edge. Use a grid or chart to give some visual volume to your argument. Saying “we have no competition” might lead others to think you don’t know your market as well as you should.
  5. Your Business Model. Give a high-level overview of how you will make money: your pipeline, sales strategy, channel partners and revenue streams.
  6. Go-to-Market Strategy. This is where you focus on the customers. How will you attract them, and more importantly, how will you convert them into customers.
  7. Team. The team behind the vision is the most important part of your pitch. Do you have a diverse team with expertise in areas you’ll need? Be sure your team shows an adept range of skills. Having an array of industry contacts among your core team can also help accelerate fundraising, market penetration and even adoption.
  8. The Ask. Make it clear what you’re there for — how much money you need, what you will use it for, your timeline. The more specific you are on how the funds will be used, the better your plan comes across.
  9. Q&A. If you’re doing all the talking in a meeting with investors, you’re doing it wrong. Open up a dialogue and give your audience the chance to challenge you, ask questions and provide feedback.

While everyone should be excited about the development happening on your product, a pitch is not the place to cover every technical detail. The flow should feel more like a story, with each element leading to the next effortlessly. Check out AirBnB’s first pitch deck — simple yet informative. Remember, you’re there to sell the opportunity, not a product.

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Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center

At HKEC, we’re all about igniting world changing ideas and preparing UT Austin student founders with the tools for startup success. herbkellehercenter.com