Working at an Incubator has improved how I saw the social enterprise ecosystem. Before, I did not even know this scenario involved an ecosystem, to begin with. And that there was a proper mechanism that needed to be considered. I always assumed that having an enterprise/company of your own only involved you having money and being okay with the risks involved. It was only after I started working at Halcyon, that I realized there is so much more than what meets the eye.
After joining Halcyon, I realized that pitching your venture was more of a story-telling and less of a 2+2=4 deal. When you pitch, you are the king of your world and fo you 2+2 can be a 5 or a 3, depending upon how your story can justify it. You are the magician who will swoosh his wand and take your audience to your world if you are good. If not, your audience will feel lost or bored and just look away. You have less than a minute to grasp their attention, if you can master that minute you will master their pockets for a very long time.
So the first and foremost thing is to know what you are doing. You need to be a master of your venture, be ready to answer questions and receive criticism. People don’t know what you are doing and why so you need to make them see sense to it and you need to tell them about it like a storyteller. Get your facts right, know what you are doing inside out, see what has been done in the past about it and what is planned for it in the future. You need to get your get the right figures and speculations and ensure you don’t lose your ground. You will only have a minute or two at maximum, anything longer will bore your audience, anything less will leave them confused. Just give enough to grasp their attention and leave enough thirst so they come back to you with a want/demand.
You are telling your story to an audience with a variety, mostly at the same time, your audience can be your prospect investor, a customer or even an employee. So make sure you customize it accordingly. You need to custom dress according to your audience too. You can’t pitch to investors in a hoodie, well you may but I’d rather you wear your venture if it is wearable but if not, dress neat and come equipped with whatever you are pitching. I have experienced that it is easier for people to go for something they can reach easily too. You are asking people to take a risk on you, bet their money on you. Be someone they can relate to, they can trust.
And the best deal is when you keep it short, simple and engaging. Normally, you should have under 3 minutes to pitch your venture, so keeping it simple and short is the way to win hearts. And make sure you stand out, in a good way. We all know the purple cow thing in the States, so be a Purple Cow (be Orange, now that purple is out and I hear Orange in the New Black now so LOL).
Do your math and know your numbers, especially if you are pitching to investors. Make sure you have your research conducted thoroughly.
The most important aspect of your pitch is your communication, verbal and non-verbal. There is so much more than what meets the eye. The way you dress, your body language, your gestures, your confidence and your eye contact makes all the difference in the world. Be someone the audience can trust. And how you do it, is up to you. If you are pitching to a corporate sector, you need to be formal and very neat, non-profit or social enterprise ecosystem has an altogether different aspect.
And practice, practice, and PRACTICE. Trust me, there is always something that goes wrong so you have to be well-prepared and make sure you are aware of the social and everyday norms of where you are pitching. And always have an ask in the end. Before you leave the stage, make sure the audience knows what you are asking. Why you are pitching your venture to them, what do you ask of them and what is your demand. Know your numbers and be very specific and of course, be the Purple Cow, do something that has never been done before, or that will be noticed and appreciated.