Brant's Rant | Startup Marketing

Oh no, not another pitch template

This is an oft-repeated subject.  I’ve reviewed 4 decks in the last week, however, so I’m going to give you my perspective while it’s all fresh on my mind.

First, even if you are not seeking funding, go through the exercise of creating a pitch and presenting it to others.  The process of creating a good pitch forces you into highly focused, critical thinking that can only serve you and your business well.  At the very least, it’s the beginning of a sales pitch, or a partner pitch, etc.,   In fact, it’s not a bad 1st exercise for gut check #1.

Second,  If you have a product idea and your are sharing it with people — whether your family, MBA buddies, ex-CEOs, angels, or VC’s, here are a couple of pretty solid rules of thumb to keep in mind.  Some say there are 1/2 dozen major religions in the world, some say there are 10s of thousands of religions in the world; in fact there are several billion religions in the world.  Which is a long way of saying:

  • the number of distinct ideas for how to improve your business idea = # of people in room – 1;
  • most people will focus on your business model, not your vision;
  • the more important your audience, the more likely they’ll interact as if they’re contestants on Funding Jeopardy!  (“What is, have you considered the complete opposite of what you’re proposing?”)

Next, while trying not to repeat the same “top 10 investor pitch faux pas” you can find elsewhere, I want to share some of the most common problems I see.  But first, here are ones that you’ve probably already seen but are worth reiterating:

  • there are too many slides;
  • there are too many words on each slide;
  • there are too many fonts, to many different text sizes, too many colors;
  • there are too many random photos or graphics, shrunk too small, that don’t say anything relevant;
  • multiple complicated graphs on one slide are a multiple too many.

Okay, now onto some finer points:

  • Each slide has an objective.  Don’t stray from the objective.  I recently worked on a slide that listed a mixture of benefits.  Problem is that it was a mixture of stakeholders:  customers, influencers, and even the business itself!
  • I work harder, been there done that, we’ll work smarter, I’ve done it before, etc., are all great bona fides, but none of them represent a business strategy.
  • Complicated ecosystems require a simple illustration.  Trying to describe a value proposition for a myriad of players, most of whom will never give you one shiny penny may be relevant, but is, to say the least, really confusing. Paint the big picture!
  • You know that jargon you’ve been using for the last 1/2 dozen years with your colleagues deep inside your technology clique?  Uh, no one else gets it.  So don’t use it.
  • Go-to-market plan means the specific things you and the resources you can afford will do to find customers, convince them to part with their money, and accept their payment.
  • If there’s anything you want your audience to understand, it’s this:  [Before you] must be more painful than [after you + your cost + risk of change]*some inertia coefficient.  (Your inertia coefficient is highly dependent on your segment.  Is your buyer class resistant?  Late adopter?  Politically influenced?  Powerless?  Masochistic?)

There are some good templates out there, some of which, however, you may want to share with discretion.  : )  My template is below.  Let me know what you think and let me know if you’re struggling with your pitch.