In the ClimateLaunchpad Moldova competition, we are getting closer to the National Final, where our participants would present their green business ideas to get the chance to enter the Regional and ultimately the Global Final. To support the participants in preparing for the National Final event, we have provided them with continuous coaching and advice on how to make an appealing and concise presentation of a business idea with respecting of all the rules of ClimateLaunchpad throughout a series of post-Boot-Camp follow-up sessions. We have also organised a special training “How to Pitch a Startup Idea” especially for the participants of the competition. The training was delivered by Roman Gluck, an experienced UX designer, public speaker, trainer, and coach in public presentations and startup pitching. Roman was also a participant in the last year’s edition of ClimateLaunchpad Moldova pitching in the National Final on behalf of the startup Arboretum.
Here we have decided to share with you some of the practical tips and valuable pieces of advice, which Roman had given to our participants with regard to how to pitch a business idea. We hope that these suggestions would help you to prepare and deliver a successful presentation of your own entrepreneurial initiative.
- Before preparing a startup pitch, you should determine clearly the goal of doing that pitch. That goal can be winning a competition, selling your product / service to the audience, getting the attention of investors, etc. Knowing your goal will allow you to set the focus of your presentation, to choose the right content for it, and to deliver that content in a way that contributes to achieving the goal.
- If you are doing the presentation of your business idea for a startup competition, make sure you know its rules and specifics very well and adapt your pitch to them. For instance, in ClimateLaunchpad, there is a specific structure of a startup presentation consisting of exactly nine slides placed in certain order and having predetermined topics for each slide. Changing any of these elements (order, topics, etc.) in a pitch delivered at this competition results in its presenter getting penalty points. Therefore, it is wise to get information about such rules and the scoring criteria of a particular competition before preparing your presentation for this competition.
- Besides determining the goal of doing your presentation and adapting the latter to any specific pitching rules you might have to follow, you should also decide on the Unique Value Proposition (USP). USP is essentially one or several things about your startup that makes it different, unique, and attractive to potential customers and investors. This USP can be represented by a patent-pending innovation of your business, a rich and growing market that your startup operates in, significant and exponentially growing user traction, an opportunity or trend that allows your business to beat possible competition and to succeed, etc. Having this USP, make sure you state it clearly and confidently in your presentation, even if you have comparatively little time to deliver the pitch.
- Indeed, during a startup pitching event, you have very limited time to present your business idea. In the ClimateLaunchpad competition, for example, the timing for a single pitch is limited to 5 minutes with 3 minutes for the following questions & answers session. In this regard, you should make your presentation not more than the allowed time, which is usually communicated to you before the event, and rehearse that presentation multiple times to make sure you fit the limits. Still, if during the delivery of your pitch nobody stops you (the clock stopped working, the person responsible for time forgot about his/her duty, etc.), you are free to continue presenting extra information about your startup until you get the sign to stop.
- Talking about extra information, it is a wise practice to include extra slides explaining technical, financial, market research, and other details about your business idea, which did not fit into the main pitch. You can then bring up these slides during the additional time you might have and/or during the Q&A session to help you answer questions from the jury and the audience much better. Even if you may not have the opportunity to use the extra slides, it is still recommended to prepare them as a ‘safety precaution’, since information on them might become that ‘extra mile’ that would make your startup pitch succeed.
- No matter how many slides you plan to have in your presentation, try to weave in a compelling story into them. For example, it can be a story of how one of your first customers had tried your product / service and how this had led to a certain positive change in his/her life. If you have a business idea with the potential to create positive impact in society and/or natural environment, you can tell a story about how the idea would make the impact happen. Certainly, your story should be tied to the format of your presentation and be within the rules of the competition you are pitching at.
- In your storytelling and presentation, be very careful with animations and video materials. You may want to add some animated transitions, effects, and short videos demonstrating your product / service. However, organisers of the pitching competition may request that you provide your presentation in the PDF format or may change the presentation into that format themselves. This renders all your ‘fancy & cool stuff’ practically useless. Therefore, try to avoid the inclusion of animations and videos in your presentation, or use them at your own risk.
- Generally, try to make your slides as simple yet supportive as possible. In startup pitching, the audience’s attention should be on the speaker, while the slides should serve as visual support to his/her words. Therefore, do not overload your presentation with a lot of text, plenty of complex diagrams, and a ‘target practice’ of bullet points. Instead, try to represent your content in easily understandable and relatable images. If you really need to include some textual information into the presentation, try to limit it to maximum six words or bullet points per slide and to display those in sufficiently large and easy to read font. Alternatively, you can make the information appear gradually, without piling up all at once. In other words, create very simple slides that do their job of supporting you, directing people’s attention towards you, and illustrating whatever you say on the stage or online.
- In case you are pitching before a panel of investors, do include in your presentation the information on how much money your startup needs to grow and how fast you estimate this business to grow and scale. This will allow potential investors to calculate how much money they can put into you and how fast and how large they would get their Return on Investment (ROI). Details about your method of estimating financial needs and startup growth rates can be included into extra slides.
- If the startup you have is your creation and you are its CEO, it does not necessarily mean that you should do the pitch. It may be better for your startup presentation to be delivered by a person, who feels him-/herself comfortable before the audience (whether offline or online) and who has skills and experience in public speaking. Surely, that person must know your business idea very well in order to tell about it sufficiently well to a competition jury and/or investors. Nevertheless, if you are confident in your own abilities to deliver a proper startup pitch, then do make the move. Just do not become a victim of overconfidence and do practice and rehearse a lot before the pitching event. And then, when the time comes, present your business idea with a smile, passion, and confidence in everything you say.
There were certainly many other useful tips and practical recommendations, which Roman had brought up in his training organised for our participants. We simply could not cover all of his suggestions in this article, which had already become quite long.
Nevertheless, we are confident that the participants of ClimateLaunchpad Moldova had taken note of many of Roman’s tips and that they would use these learning points to prepare their presentations for the concluding event of the competition: the National Final.
This pitching event is going to happen online on the 8th of August. We invite you to follow our blog to find out, which startups participating in ClimateLaunchpad Moldova this year would win the national stage of the competition and would proceed to the Regional (and possibly even Global) Final.
GreenTech Rangers and ClimateLaunchpad Moldova are organized by MEGA and Generator Hub and supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).