Everything you need to know to win a pitching contest

Kate Jones

Winning a pitching competition is the stuff entrepreneurs dream of. And it’s not just for the seed funds.

Taking out the top prize is the validation so many big thinkers crave. This firm stamp of approval can motivate them to reach crucial early development goals and boost their profile.

Pitching contests such as Sydstart and The Big Pitch are hugely competitive affairs that attract hundreds of startup hopefuls.

With so much at stake, it pays to polish your presentation skills. Follow these winning tips for pitching success.

Be excited

Show enthusiasm and passion, says Dave Scheine, a judge for The Big Pitch.

“If you don’t appear genuinely excited about your startup and the opportunity before you, how can you expect an investor to be?” he says.

Practice can’t be underestimated. Rehearse your presentation and make sure you convey excitement.

Keep it simple

Break it down to the basics, says Tim Hill, co-founder of Social Status, winner of The Big Pitch 2015.

“Try and boil it down to its simplest form and build on that,” he says.

“Don’t overestimate how much people can take in. A lot of feedback I get is to slow down and keep it simple.”

Can you explain what your startup or business does in 60 seconds? If not, you may need to refine your pitch.

If you don’t appear genuinely excited about your startup and the opportunity before you, how can you expect an investor to be?

Know your numbers

Investors want to know the details to assess a startup’s position and potential.

“You need to clearly and confidently speak to the key metrics about your progress to date and the market opportunity,” says Scheine.

Memorise important figures including revenue, sign-ups and acquisition costs.

Address change

A recipe for pitch success is to describe how your startup addresses change, Hill says.

“A fundamental in any pitch is you need to get across, in the first slide, some type of paradigm shift,” he says.

“Explain how things are drastically changing. So for us, it was about the uptake of social media.”

Why are you throwing your hat into the ring?

Securing capital is on the top of every startup’s agenda. Yet many entrepreneurs are at a loss as how to explain why it’s needed and what for.

“I’ve been amazed how often founders come up with seemingly arbitrary figures here,” Scheine says.

“Explain how much funding you're looking to raise and what you plan to accomplish with that raise.”

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.

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