Pitch: How not to waste the ten seconds that can change your life!
One day, maybe tomorrow, during a trade show, a conference or a networking event, you will meet an investor. It’s a good thing: you have an excellent startup project, or even an activity already underway that he could finance and help to get off the ground.
Except that there will be several steps before you can explain your project to him. If you want to convince them, in a few months or weeks, to invest a few hundred thousand euros, you must first make contact and, while you’re at it, arouse their interest from the very first seconds.
Investor’s interest, keep pushing, but…
It may seem tedious, difficult, or stupid, but it’s inescapable: you have to capture the investor’s attention. Make them curious. Make them want to know more about your idea.
Why this effort? Because an investor is a solicited person, often already in contact with other entrepreneurs and multiple project holders.
Their time is precious: like you, me and most adults in the 21st century, they find that hours and minutes go by too quickly to entrust them to people who are boring or who don’t know what they want. Once the ice is broken, you can present the details of your idea, the subtleties that make your startup strong. But first, you have to make the other person want to listen to you.
When comes the window to introduce yourself ?
You will then have a few seconds, or even a little more, to allow the other person to discover you, and to make him/her want (which is essential!) to know more.
To understand the following advice, put yourself in the role of a seducer or a seductress looking for a love relationship (with elegance, of course) at a first meeting.
If you’re not available because you’re busy with an appointment, or you don’t have the mental availability to listen to your suitor because he or she is already in the middle of a conversation with someone on the phone, you won’t have a chance to talk.
What can we conclude immediately? That some times are more suitable than others.
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Increase your chances by looking for a suitable context !
If possible, look for those special moments when an investor will have some time on his hands. You can get a meeting at his office, or even enter a conversation in progress at a networking event or a conference, but the result is random.
“The best is when the investor is far from the sources of disturbances and emergencies in his daily environment”
It is to create a “bubble” of time and availability between entrepreneurs and investors that I created the Start-Up Golf Challenge… At least on a golf course of a few hours, everyone has time to talk.
But let’s get back to our seduction course…
Showing a little originality, enthusiasm, and a minimum of energy and humor will make the person you are talking to more likely to listen.
Perform as an actor without being excessive !
To get an investor to listen, you have to seduce too. The time will come later when you will look in detail together at the business plan and the five-year profitability calculation.
So set the scene with your story. Explain in a few simple words the problem or the experience of the customer to whom your startup wants to offer its great solution, service or mobile application.
In the interaction with the investor, look for the exchange.
Ask questions, encourage conversation. It’s perfectly fine to start your approach with a question. Look curious, surprised, playful: it’s up to you to get your question out of the banality and provoke boredom.
Don’t be afraid to look people in the eye, on the contrary.
Show a scene, tell a need, share your emotion around a question or the beginning of a story. You can take as a hook your desire to make things happen, the taste for more justice or beauty around us, etc.
Nothing is worse than an entrepreneur who “pitches” while desperately clinging to his printed slides, or who hides behind the speech of a Powerpoint display on a screen. This freezes the exchange, the body language…Be more in a logic of frank conversation.
A correct exemple with the pitch of the co-founder Clément Fleau from Noil Motors !
has created an immediate complicity with the investors by making them smile from the very first seconds, before making them wonder about his subject.
His company, which already has about 15 employees, does retrofits: it converts thermal scooters to electric.
Without revealing his pitch, I summarize the chronology that broke the ice immediately:
1/ Clément asks a simple question to the assembly of investors about a subject, their thermal (gasoline) car
2/ Most of them answer yes
3/ He asks them a second question, to which most of them also answer “Yes”.
4/ And there he surprises everyone by not being afraid to state the obvious, which takes us all by surprise. Laughter erupts in the room and everyone is hooked.
5/ From the observation made by the audience, he unfolds the “why” of his business and continues on the opportunities he has discovered
In short, the audience was surprised, amazed with an original approach that prepared the arrival of his business topic.
Discover the interview of Clément Fleau and Raphaël Setbon, realized during a previous Start-up Golf Challenge.
Keep it natural (don’t oversale)
Nothing is worse than repeating like a parrot a monolithic speech, always the same. Adapt yourself to the person in front of you, bounce off the information he or she gives you.
Accept to improvise if it serves the conversation with the investor. Just keep in mind to stay focused on your project, its development, etc.. That’s the goal that doesn’t change. The ways to talk about it, on the other hand, depend only on your imagination and the opportunities available at the time.
Enjoy your mistakes.
When you speak at an event or in an austere meeting room, in front of entrepreneurs and investors in a hurry who have not come to pander to you, you will be impressed and stressed. You may stammer a little, forget a detail…
This is normal, as long as it remains within acceptable limits. But don’t worry: it’s a reflection of your enthusiasm, your boundless energy as a young entrepreneur, etc.
A clumsy but spontaneous approach that exudes sincerity is better than a well-oiled start-up that will seem less credible if everything is too prepared, too set in stone to be totally credible and inspire confidence.
So don’t force the apparences.
Do not try to “sell” your project too much.
Act as if the issue does not affect you (without becoming arrogant either). Be resilient and assertive in the face of objections or criticism
Get a performative pitch
Your words must give proof of your actions, of your vision. When you sell a project, you are impregnated… and it has to be beautiful!
So if you’re talking about a high-potential business full of promise, one that’s transforming the world, that must translate into enthusiasm in your actions and words.
A verb is said to be performative when the simple act of saying it out loud performs the action. Your pitch must do the same: the ideas you describe must also transform the people in the room or in front of you.
Engage people in your idea, your project, by allowing them to be the change you are talking about.
For your Pitch, take care and work on your approach. Go to entrepreneurs and investors to practice it and remember the words, the questions, the ideas that help break the ice and talk about your project.
Show that you believe in your project enough to find solutions to these obstacles and overcome them later.
Want to hear more advice? In this video, Laurence Olivier, Managing Director of Marseille Innovation, encourages entrepreneurs to keep it simple: