I avoid startup contest events, most of them are incredibly boring. But then Morgan « 3 men in 1 guy » Denis told me LeWeb Startup Tour would adopt a 90 seconds pitch 4 minutes questions format orchestrated by an awesome master of ceremony. I was still dubious, but I said « OK man, I’ll trust you on this one and come ».
There’s something great with Morgan, at least in our professional relationship: when you trust him, you’re not disappointed. The format was great, Rodrigo was awesome and this Parisian date of LeWeb Startup Tour featured a set of the most impressive startups I’ve ever seen in a pitch contest.
There was one problem though.
If you’re a regular here, you know I’ve the bad habit to tell my mind. If you’re first timers, you’ll discover it soon enough. Tonight event was really good, but for God’s sake, please learn how to pitch your startup!, I beg you.
Pitching is tough. Pitching in front of a crow is even tougher. Pitching in front of a crowd in a foreign language is challenging. So pitching in front of a crowd in a foreign language in a very short time is incredibly difficult. I went through this a couple of times, failed and I know why.
When you’re given 90 seconds, rehearse for 85. Shorten your usual pitch to only keep the key points. I think the only startup that actually worked on a 89 seconds pitch was Captain Contrat.
Remember the message. When we started e-live, our coach at Essec Venture told us the basic message our pitch had to transmit: who we are, what problem we solve, how we solve it, what’s our revenue model, what is our (estimated) growth and what makes us awesome.
Don’t rely on your slides. 90 seconds is barely enough to tell people who you are, what problem you solve, how you solve it, how you get customers, so don’t rely on your usual slide deck. Or if you use them, do it to display something really striking. Contest winner Sublime Skinz did that a great way with their slide: 20 people, 400 million users, 5 million in revenue.
Repeat your pitch until you dream about it. A few years ago I met that guy who was told he would be ready to pitch investors after telling his pitch to 50 persons. He took it literally and pitched 50 different persons. He pitched his wife, his kids, his mother, potential clients, strangers at the laundry, in the bakery line… After pitching those 50 persons, he started to pitch for real.
Here’s what I noticed yesterday (while shooting from way too close with a dead flash). Congrats to Sublime Skinz and Fitle for making it to LeWeb finals, looking forward to seeing you again in December!