Pitch ideal: Eight suggestions to enable would-be entrepreneurs slay the pitch contest

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By Camilla Cornell

Winning two big pitch contests helped entrepreneur Nicole Smith get her small business, Victoria-primarily based Flytographer, on the map.

In 2018, she took residence the $25,000 prize from The Forum for Ladies Entrepreneurs (FWE) for her on the net marketplace that connects travellers with nearby photographers for candid photo shoots about the planet. Additional lately, she became a single of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Ladies, permitting her to attend two prestigious events in New York and Palm Desert, Calif., with most of her expenditures covered.

But for Smith, the side positive aspects of each wins outshone any monetary worth. As a finalist with FWE, she got a coach to enable tighten her pitch. Plus “a forum like that is a terrific way to amplify awareness of your startup,” she mentioned. “Everyone in that audience of 600 ladies was a target for my enterprise.”

The most important advantage of the EY win was the chance to network with other talented female entrepreneurs. “I reside on a smaller island,” she mentioned. “There are not a lot of individuals like me, so I was truly excited about getting in a position to construct relationships with other like-minded individuals who had been at my level and my stage of development or a small bit ahead of me.”

Each year, hundreds of entrepreneurial “contests” take location nationwide. Winning can confer a wide variety of positive aspects, from money to networking possibilities with fellow small business owners, mentors and investors. Nonetheless, “I do not know if I’d advise pitching just about every contest. You have to feel about what stage your startup is at and what you want to get out of it,” Smith mentioned.

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Study on for eight suggestions from Smith and Bow Valley College entrepreneur-in-residence and pitch coach Craig Elias, of Calgary, to enable you recognize very good bets and prepare your self to win.

1. Be choosy. “I wouldn’t go into any pitch contest exactly where you have to spend to participate,” Smith mentioned. She advises carrying out a fast verify to guarantee you meet the contest’s criteria and attempting to isolate these for which you are uniquely certified. For instance, Smith had currently knocked out 50 per cent of the competitors for the WEF basically by dint of getting a lady.

Want to know what’s out there? Verify out the lists of pitch contests at FoundersBeta and StartupToronto.

two. Consider massive image. Some entrepreneurs invest up to half of their presentation detailing the nitty-gritty of their product’s attributes, Elias mentioned. Large error. Concentrate on “the worth individuals get from utilizing it,” he mentioned.

Granted, your new-fangled health-related test may well effectively be much easier, quicker and extra handy. But its correct worth is likely that it aids individuals “get diagnosed sooner and heal quicker,” Elias mentioned. “For corporations and insurance coverage providers that implies reduced extended-term disability expenditures.”

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three. Inform them a story. Do not below-estimate the energy of a “short highly effective story that illustrates why your item is worth investing in,” Smith mentioned. For her FWE pitch, Smith utilised the words and images of a 57-year-old lady who hired Flytographer to shoot her very first solo trip to Amsterdam immediately after her husband died. “When I’m an old lady in a nursing residence, I will appear at these images and keep in mind my bliss,” the lady told Smith.

four. Use photos. “The extra photographs you have and the much less text, the improved your pitch is going to be,” Elias mentioned. The caveat: he believes video ought to only be utilised to demonstrate your item in use. “It’s also simple to record and ideal a video, but that is the lazy way out. Persons want to see you do true-time pitching.”

five. Get the audience’s acquire-in. 1 highly effective way to kick off a presentation is with a query, Elias mentioned. His instance: “How lots of individuals in this area know a person who has had cancer or died of cancer?” As hands rise, you can stick to up with some thing along the lines of: “My name’s Craig Elias and I have a uncomplicated way to enable cancer sufferers recover quicker.”

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six. Steer clear of jargon. No matter who your audience, stay away from sector jargon. “You do not want individuals carrying out mental gymnastics in their brain attempting to figure out what that acronym implies,” Smith mentioned. You can generally present extra data later, but when crafting a pitch, “ask your self regardless of whether your grandmother can fully grasp you.”

7. Inform them what they want to hear. For Elias, the 4 important points you require to cover off in a pitch are: How massive is the market place for your item or service and who’s your competitors? How do you make revenue? How do you protect against other individuals from borrowing your thought? And lastly, how considerably traction do you currently have (measured by the quantity of clients or revenues)?

eight. Practice and repeat. It is vital to practice your presentation ahead of you seem so you are not stumbling or reading from notes. But practicing (in a secure atmosphere exactly where you are not nervous) is not sufficient, Elias mentioned. “It requires repetition to get comfy producing your case ahead of strangers. You ought to pitch anytime and wherever you can.”

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