One of the defining startup moments is when you get the opportunity to pitch your business to the key people who can make your idea a reality (e.g.: funders, potential partners).
However, before the adrenaline rush, stress and exhilaration of the pitch, you need to roll up your sleeves for a few less glamourous, more sedate tasks: figuring out what you’re going to say.
Create a vision
First, you need to clearly define the vision your company has for generating new opportunities or solving old problems. Think about the world today without your product; now, imagine a future with it. How did you get there? What steps or elements had to come into play to make this ideal world of the future – ideal because your product/service has made people’s lives easier? Use the unique and/or emotionally resonate words that you’ve generated during the exercise as a foundation for your vision.
Pinpoint the problem
Next, you’ll need to dig a little deeper into the problem your idea will solve. By elaborating on as many aspects of the problem as you can, you’ll be able to home in on the unique facets of your product/service that set you apart from the competition (making you more interesting to a potential investor). For example, who experiences this problem? When is the problem experienced? Why hasn’t the problem been solved before? After you’ve made a list of problems, jot down the solutions your product/service offers.
Describe your business idea
Developing a clear and concise description of your business idea will generate an impact when you meet with potential funders, partners or customers. To find your best idea description, consider things like how your idea emerged, which customer groups you’ll target and what needs the product/service will satisfy, any patent opportunities, and, of course, a product description. Use the checklist in our Pitching Toolkit to work through the 18 components of a well-defined idea description.
Pick your idea apart
In this step you’ll conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the business and product/service idea. For each category in the business model (Product & Technology, Partnerships & People, Customers, Users & Market Opportunities, and Production & Delivery), list as many strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as you can think of. Then assign a number from one to five (with five being the highest) to each of them so you can calculate the overall strength for that category. This type of visual exercise will highlight weaknesses/threats and opportunities – and should prompt you to find ways to decrease the former and capitalize on the latter.
Find your customers
Now that you’re clear and confident about your idea, you need to figure out who it’s for. Mapping out customer segments and creating customer profiles and personas is helpful for two reasons:
- The exercise ensures that product development resources are used efficiently: if there’s a proven and specific audience out there looking for your product/service, you won’t waste time or money going down dead-end product development roads;
- These customer and market descriptions will form an integral part of your pitch. If a funder senses that you’re not sure who your product is made for, or worse that you’ve made it for everyone, you can keep talking, but they’ve already made up their mind (a hard pass). And in the end, you’ll be doing yourself a favour: financially successful product ideas are formulated by keeping the customer’s perspective and situation in mind.
Tell your story
Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, now you can start to put them together. At this point you know the who, what, when, where, and why; all that’s left is to figure out how to combine those dry ingredients into sweet investor ear candy. A well-crafted narrative (a.k.a. story) aggregates your idea, approach, challenges, and opportunities into an intriguing and compelling communication tool. Using a story to communicate what you do, for whom and why will make ears perk up and wallets open.
Do you have an idea that will change the world? Ask about our Pitching Toolkit!
The Pitching Toolkit includes:
- A free, one-hour consultation to assess where you’re at, where you need to go, and what tools/resources you’ll need to get there.
- The following Ideation Sheets:
- Problem Understanding
- Idea Description
- Idea Review
- Customer Segments
- Customer Profiles
- Customer Persona
- Elevator Pitch
- A 30, 60 or 90-day action plan
- Monthly follow-up from our certified GrowthWheel® advisors
- Qualified referrals to resource materials, experts and partners (legal, funding, social media, branding and marketing, etc.)