How to Practice Your Pitch

TechStars published few days ago a great post about practicing your pitch to the prospective investors. Here is a quick summary of what I learnt from Next Big Sound’s pitch.

  1. Show that you have industry experience.
    Co-founder & CEO Alex White worked at Universal Records, the world’s biggest music company.
  2. Show that you experienced the same problem.
    Alex showed his frustration by putting hands on his head.
  3. A bit humor.
    “# of girls in backstage” made the audience laugh a bit.
  4. Start demo after 1 minute.
    No more talking. Jump into to actual product demo.
  5. Talk about the problem details.
    Alex showed his product can produce better result than $4,000 worth industry report, which brings a bit ‘wow’ factor to his pitch.
  6. Talk about your vision not just your product.
  7. Don’t talk about the features you are going to implement in the future.
    While there are many startups talking about their future milestones, Alex did not mention the things he is going to do when his startup gets some investment in the future.
  8. Show that you are targeting a big market.
    “It’s going to be difficult for the record labels to business without us (Next Big Sound)” gives the audience a very strong impression that they are following a big market and going to be the game changer.
  9. Don’t talk about your competitors.
    Simply investors are not interested in hearing the name of your competitors. They are interested in how you differentiated yourself from others.
  10. Introduce your team members (with a bit humor)
    “It’s cheap to keep us alive” = “We don’t need lots of investment to make this happen.” is excellent way of introducing your team members while giving an impression that you understand a ramen noodle startup model.
  11. Show your customers.
    Needless to say, this is the best way to gain your credibility.

Also interesting is that according to TechStars CEO David Cohen, Next Big Sound had a different product idea when they joined the program. This is another indication that TechStars is making the investment in people (I say people, not a single person) but not in ideas. I believe this is true to the most accelerator programs such as Y Combinator and 500 Startups.

Lastly, huge congrats to the folks at Next Big Sound who secured $1M seed funding after this pitch and the following $6.5M series A funding in January.