Written by Kristen Lunman, Programme Director 2017
One of the most important parts of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator programme is the creation of the investment pitch. Our teams have great ideas and exciting business potential, but finding an investor is a lot like going for a job interview – they’ve got to prove themselves and they do it via the perfect pitch.
Our teams have to pitch their business ideas three times a week. One team member, not always the CEO, stands in front of their teammates, colleagues and many of Creative HQ’s staff. Daunting? You bet. Now try it with a 90-second timeframe! We’re not putting the teams through this to be cruel. We truly believe that without the perfect pitch, they won’t find the investment they need to make their dreams a reality. So, directly after every pitch, we workshop – everyone gives suggestions on how to make the pitch better and gives kudos for the parts that worked best. And every week the teams get better. From body language to the speed of delivery, we’ve learned what works best over the last few weeks. Want to know the secret? Here’s the lowdown.
Fake it ‘til you make it (aka be confident!)
Having an investment pitch stored away in your brain is a pretty amazing asset no matter who your audience is. You might tailor your pitch to potential investors, customers, or employees, changing your value proposition as you go so that your message resonates with each crowd. The content of your pitch is vital, of course, but your delivery matters too. In every conversation you have, you’ve always got to have confidence. Back your idea, back yourself. Easier said than done!
Here, the first time a team does a pitch, they’re apprehensive and a bit shy. But practice makes perfect. Yes, we push the teams to pitch to the room three times a week, however, they’re also practising in front of each other, at home in front of the mirror, and pitching to their friends and family too. Confidence grows with each take as a result of all this practice. The kinks get smoothed out and the pitch gets memorised. Once your pitch is memorised, you know it inside and out. It becomes a part of your very being and lets you focus on the parts that you want to emphasise, including the body language you know you need to use to hit the message home.
You get one shot to deliver the perfect pitch. So, you’ve got to be confident in your delivery of it. Knowing your pitch by heart is the first step in owning the process. Breathe. Stand tall. Perfect posture will help convince investors you’re confident, even if you’re shaking in your boots the first few minutes. You got this!
Passion: not just a buzzword
Once you’re feeling confident to pitch to investors, it’s time to infuse your words with the passion that got you interested in your business project in the first place. You believe in the product or service that you’re offering, now you have to prove it. The way you feel about your business idea tells potential investors how serious you are about it, and how far you’re willing to go to make your dream come true.
The perfect pitch gives investors a detailed background on how you came to develop your business idea. Investors are keen to hear about eureka moments because the uniqueness of an idea is will likely turn into a vision, and visions make money. Don’t be turned off by the word ‘passion’. Call it something else if you think it’s too cheesy a definition for your drive to push your idea to market. Just make sure you show your audience that you believe in your own vision and that you’re dedicated to driving it to market.
Follow a formula if you need to
Cool, you’ve memorised your pitch, you back your idea completely, and you’ve got the power pose. We’re halfway there! Now, it’s time to learn from the pitches you hear from others.
Most pitches follow this formula:
An introduction of who you are.
A description of** what**your business is and the problem it solves.
A narrative of when you started it.
A mention of where your business is at now.
An explanation of why investors should invest in you.
Details of how you plan to use the money.
The who-what-when-where-why-how formula may seem overly simple, but it’s a good start when you’re starting out in crafting your pitch. In a 90-second pitch, you only have time for 15 or so short sentences. Following a standard formula will ensure that your content hits all the important points that enquiring investment minds want to know.
The better you get at pitching, the easier it will be to leave the formula in your wake as you get more creative with your delivery. Patience, Grasshopper. Your passion for your business combined with a confident delivery can win over hearts once you’ve won over their money-savvy brains by following a fail-proof formula.
We all love a good story, so give us one
Following a formula is a great way to get started in pitching, but if you’re ready to get creative right away then we suggest crafting your pitch like you would create a storyboard for a novel or movie. Don’t spend your whole 90 seconds waffling on about your company’s value at present. You’ve got eight people signed up for your newsletter? Not worth mentioning. Inspire your investors by telling them about the future of your company. You’re the author of this story, right? Then make it a page-turner. No, you don’t need to go get your Masters in Creative Writing. Just follow the recipe. Every good story has a formula with a beginning, middle and end. Let’s look at Cinderella as an example.
- Beginning: introduces the character and the problem
Cinderella lives with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. While she slaves to keep them happy, she dreams of a better life.
- Middle: introduces the solution, drives the plot by setting up the pace
Cinderella is visited by her fairy godmother. She attends the ball and meets her Prince Charming. Time runs out and she leaves one of her glass slippers behind.
- End: reaping the benefits of the solution, bringing a sense of resolution
Prince Charming uses the glass slipper to find Cinderella. They live happily ever after.
Apply this storytelling formula to your pitch and you’ll be living happily ever after too. Smart investors will easily grasp your business model, but crafting your pitch with a narrative will make it more memorable and effective. Just remember, you’re not Shakespeare. No one wants to sit around for a long-winded soliloquy or a sob story that has nothing to do with the business model at hand. It’s a fine art blending personal narrative with the data and realities of your business idea. But we’ve got faith in you! Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it interesting. Voila, pitch perfect.
Are you ready to start pitching? Do you have tips of your own to share? Get in touch if you want to find out more about what we’re up to at the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator and how you can get involved!