I am currently volunteering as a project leader for Step Forward at Enactus, which aims to prevent children in Ethiopia to develop podoconiosis, also called Mossy Foot. An effective solution to prevent podoconiosis is to wear shoes. My team members and I worked for several months to establish key partnerships and to develop a shoe prototype that is affordable and mostly sustainable. My motivation to join Enactus is to use my skills for a good cause and to further develop my leadership skills.
We were convinced about Step Forward and hence, decided to take part at the Idea Factory pitch competition at King’s Entrepreneurship Institute. 220 entrepreneurial teams applied, 20 received an invitation to pitch, 10 were invited to the House of Lords, and 3 were announced as the winners of the £6,000 prize pot granted by Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE. Step Forward was the first announced winner. Read the story here.
I am proud of the work of my team members Barbara Falana, Emilie Pirson, Laura Choi, Lea Dambreville, Lisa Klotz, Monica Hanna, Saiqa Pirmohamed, and Sigourney Hove. Furthermore, I also want to thank Ayat Omara and Juan Camilo Betancourt Gonzalez for pitching with us, Mark Corbett for holding valuable pitch and presentation workshops, Rachel Stockey and Katherine Horsham for organizing the event, and the judges Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE, Professor Ute Stephan, and Yee Mun Thum for putting trust in Step Forward.
Content – The What
The following list presents the core elements investors and judges expect to see addressed during a pitch.
1. Company information
What is the logo, the name of the organization, and the mission statement of the organization?
Who are the people behind the team? This element should be placed at the beginning when being a start-up and at the end when being a scale-up.
What problem does the organization solve for its beneficiaries or customers?
How does the organization solve the problem?
5. Market size
What is the size of the total addressable market (TAM) the organization is competing in?
How does the product, platform, service, or website operate? If the product is demo-able, then an animation or video should be included in this section.
7. Business model
How does the organization make money?
Who are expert advisors? This section shows that other professionals already put trust in the organization and believe in its feasibility.
9. Adoption strategy
What is the go to market approach in terms of marketing and sales?
What other organizations operate in the same business sector and how can they be compared?
11. Competitive advantages
What advantages does the team and product have that competitors cannot easily replicate?
12. Financial information
What are the financial projections for the next 3 to 5 years? If available, one should include, depending on the circumstances, the statement of financial condition, the income statement, or the statement of cash flows from the latest financial year.
13. Required investment
What is the current roadmap, how much investment is the organization seeking, what is the current valuation, and why should investors invest right now?
Style – The How
I developed this style guide after attending one of Mark Corbett’s pitch and presentation workshops.
One should always be on point and talk as much as necessary and as little as possible.
Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule predicts that words, tone of voice, and body language respectively account for 7%, 38%, and 55% of personal communication. Therefore, to create a powerful and rememberable presentation, one should focus not only on the content but also on these other two elements.
3. The Pyramid Principle
When crafting arguments, one should start with one concise thought and progressively expand into details. A useful book to gain an understanding on crafting arguments is the book The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by former McKinsey consultant Barbara Minto.
4. The Golden Circle
One certainly has heard about or read the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek and the Golden Circle. Its insights are highly applicable for developing pitches. Investors care about one’s motivation as much as every other person.
I want to mention the importance of prioritization. I observed that many entrepreneurial individuals attend pitch events without having started their organization. However, I believe one should first build a minimum viable product (MVP) before attending a pitch event. This way, one can test assumptions and show commitment to the business idea, which probably convinces potential investors more than a perfect pitch.