How to make a kick-ass pitch?

As a startuper or entrepreneur, you may be familiar with this concept more than anyone else, though it’s quite another thing to explain it to people. At NUMA, we have seen so many entrepreneurs driven by their ideas but failed at the exercise of pitching. Therefore we thought we would share a couple of tips we learnt over the years while listening to startup pitches to make a kick-ass pitch.

First of all, put yourself in a random person’s shoes to make sure your pitch is understandable by everyone. Then, build your pitch with the help of a Business Model Canvas. This is an amazing tool when it comes to clearing your mind and recognising what you need to say or not. Every part of this canvas reflects an important point of your startup’s structure and vision.

One last thing, a pitch varies from 3 to 30 minutes but in most cases, it lasts for 5 minutes. When you’re invited to pitch, prepare your speech for the time set up, not more. Otherwise, it can be seen as a lack of readiness and professionalism as well as disrespect.

make kick-ass pitch

10 slides to ensure a great pitch

While you’re speaking, you have to show the jury that you have acquired a certain degree of experience in your field. For that, you need to follow a common template. This framework is composed of 10 slides displaying.

1. Introduction

The first slide appearing on your pitch deck is the introduction. Generally, pitchers prefer to write their startup’s name instead of “introduction”, and that’s better. In this section, you should tell the jury why you’re here, where you started, where are you now and where you want to be. You also have to define your idea in one sentence, so I advise you to prepare few words explaining your solution as well as the value proposition and your customer target.

2. Problem

You then need to introduce the problem you’re solving. In this section, the jury is expecting concrete examples. The most evocative manner to get your point across is to tell the jury what encouraged you to tackle this problem; in other words: your story.

Last but not least for this section: You cannot solve every issue on Earth so don’t attempt to describe too many problems. One problem is already large enough to tackle. The most efficient way to reach the jury is to show the Top 3 problems and emphasise how painful they are.

3. Solution

How do you solve the problem you’ve just highlighted? This is what you need to focus on at that point. Keep in mind that someone has probably already had a similar idea before you, so you need to point out why your product/service is exceptional compared to others. It’s also very important to explain how it works as well as the technology behind this solution. You need to convey the value proposition of your solution and also the feedback you have received on it.

4. Market

As an expert, you have to know the dynamics within your market. In general, people show the market size in itself (how much the market is worth, the number of customers, etc). That’s not wrong, but if you want to catch investors’ attention you should present the annual growth rate of this market and your persona (ideal customer). Investors look at the future, so they’ll be more interested in the annual growth rate than other data.

5. Business Model

One of the main goals of your business is to become sustainable, thus to make money. As the speaker, your goal on this slide is to show your revenue streams and how it works. Focus on the main source of revenue and then go quickly through the rest.

As I said before, investors foresee how much the business could pay off in the future. Therefore, they will pay attention to your revenue for the upcoming years. You can display it like this:

Year 1: ARPC x number of customers = Revenue

        Year 2: ARPC x number of customers = Revenue        

Year 3: ARPC x number of customers = Revenue

Year 4: ARPC x number of customers = Revenue

Year 5: ARPC x number of customers = Revenue

ARPC = Average revenue per customer

Number of customers = customers over years believable

NB: It is always better to present your revenue from Year 1 to Year 5 rather than the other way around.

6. Competition

We have seen so many people pitch in front of us who have said that they were the only ones in their market and had no competitors. This can be true, but it’s most likely really rare so be careful when you make this claim. Essentially, investors expect a list of your competitors and what their position in the market is (you can show it in a competition mapping for instance). It is also a good time to mention your unfair advantage. What edge do you have on your competitors? It can be a specific person, an IP, or any other resource.  

Competition mapping of the Ipad

7. Marketing

The seventh slide is dedicated to your acquisition channel on your Business Model Canvas. With the help of your persona, you should define what channels you plan to use to acquire customers. Following this, this section needs to also display your KPIs. Explain it briefly because you’ll come back to it once you reach the Traction’s slide.

8. Traction

An initial traction for your product/service is essential to prove that people are interested and understand which problem you aim to solve. Tell the jury how many people have used your solution, what feedback they have given and how you analysed it. Use your KPIs to show your initial traction. Explain it briefly because you’ll come back to it once you reach the Traction slide.

9. Team

The team is one of the most important pillars of your startup and investors will certainly pay particular attention during this part. The purpose of this section is to highlight who does what and what are the different skills in your team. Tell them a bit about every person’s background and explain their role within the company. Investors need to understand why these people are on your team.

10. Needs

Too many people are afraid of approaching this section in front of their audience. This is why you’re in front of the jury. Power through it and ask for your needs (money, connections, others..). And, please, don’t make the mistake of asking for living costs (for example, asking money for paying the rent).

 

make a kick-ass pitch

Demo Day Season 2 at NUMA Bengaluru

Get our attention and keep it

The way you present your pitch is essential to make it great. First of all, you need to know your audience. Try to find out the background of the investors in front of you, especially how they invest in general – you can also anticipate the questions they will ask during the Q&A session. A well-prepared pitch will give you all the keys to access funding. For this, you will need to train yourself in front of friends, family or during pitching sessions. A good pitch is a practised pitch! Think about tone, manner, and the energy you want to communicate. Each detail has to be carefully reviewed.

Another pitching aspect, which is sometimes neglected, is the visuals on your Powerpoint or any other tool you may use. At NUMA, we’ve seen bad presentations several times. What I mean by this is that sometimes we see 100+ sentences on the same slide, a lack of fluidity, non-visual attractive presentations, etc… When you take your audience through your pitch deck, a good design would be one of your best allies.

Here are some rules that you should respect during your pitch:

  • Keep each slide as simple as you can with only a few impactful words (no more than 15 words per slides and 4 sentences)
  • Go through your presentation point by point (don’t show all your slides directly). This will keep your audience’s attention.
  • Use the colour identity of your startup in your deck and the same framework for every slide. Do not put too much colour on it (4 colours maximum).
  • Try to use pictures to illustrate what you’re saying, an image means more than a thousand words. The most effective way to do this is to use flat icon because most people understand it better (FlatIcon)
  • Use the same font, and try to use a font size that can be seen by everyone in the room (think about the people at the back of the room). 

5 last tips for pitching

Here are some other useful tips for preparing your pitch:

  1. Watch videos of pitches to get yourself into a good mindset (there is a myriad of content on Youtube, e.g. Pitch Trybe DemoDay S10 at NUMA).
  2. Pitch your idea as much as you can, in every situation. When you’re a startuper, you will always meet people who want to know more about your idea. Feel free to tell them what you’re doing. You’ll start to notice if people understand your solution and if you need to optimise your pitch.
  3. Anticipate the Question&Answer part at the end by knowing your audience. If you know who you’re talking to, it’ll be easier to prepare yourself for questions.
  4. Avoid huge amounts of numbers, otherwise, your audience will get bored quickly.
  5. Communicate your passion, show enthusiasm, share your story with your audience.

– Alexandre, Business Program Associate at NUMA Bengaluru

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5 Keys to Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

After working for Google France as a digital coach the past 2 years, I have met hundreds of entrepreneurs and SME owners. Some of them understood the importance of digital transition in their business, some of them didn’t – mostly because of a lack of time or knowledge. Above all however, they often don’t have a good mindset about the value and purpose of digital marketing. Most of them find themselves going digital just because they feel that they have to, but not because they truly understand the results they could get.

The 5 keys to build an efficient digital ecosystem:

1) Social media: Build your community first

If you wanted to create a startup even just a few years ago, you would have to work on it out of your garage and wait patiently until it’s done to show it to the world. Today the vision of entrepreneurship has totally changed. You shouldn’t waste your time on building something that no one may want and wait until your launch to acquire customers.

Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

Fake it until you make it

Even if you just have an idea, create a social media account on each platform you think your potentials customers are present on. Start sharing content you know they will enjoy, which relates to your future offerings. You can use tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule posts in order to gain time and create valuable content to engage them through blog posts or visuals.

In this way, you can build your offer while receiving feedback from your community. The day you launch it, you will already be confident of your first sales. Why? You would have already created a relationship with your community – they’ll like you, support you and will be impatient to use what you have to offer.

This community will also be a perfect way to help you spread the word when you launch your product. You can use them to join a thunderclap campaign or also to support you in a crowdfunding campaign.

2) Optimize your website to get leads

A website shouldn’t only be a showcase of your value proposition. Imagine you are the owner of a physical shop and you have a hundred visitors everyday. Yet, nobody speaks to you, nobody buys anything. How frustrating would that be? This won’t happen however, because you would engage with your visitors, act friendly and try to understand their needs in order to sell them your products.

The concept is almost identical for your website. If you have a hundred visitors per day, you should provide the best user experience possible and attempt to engage them. It can be through contacting you, filling out a form, subscribing to your newsletter or even sharing your content. In almost each case, you might not make a sale but at least you’ll get a lead – their email.

As you can see on NUMA Bengaluru’s home page, we allow our visitors to apply for our acceleration program and we offer them the option to follow us by subscribing.

Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

Your landing page should be efficient as well. This means that your visitors should understand in less than 5 seconds what the benefits of your offer are. One of the best ways to do so is to break the top of your landing page into 3 parts:

  1. A headline that explains the main benefit/goal of your offer. It’s possible to add a small text under it to ensure clarity.
  2. A powerful and explicit Call to Action
  3. A step by step explanation of the process to ensure that your potential customers quickly understand what their user experience entails.

WordPress and Squarespace are good plateform to start.

Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

However, to give the best user experience to your potential customers, your website should be a 100% responsive and fast. You can use this Google tool in order to check: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/

For free, it will give your website a score for speed and responsivity. It will also tell you what to fix in order to improve your given score and thus, your overall user experience.

Finally, the better way to optimize your website is to get datas analytics. It’s pretty simple to setup Google Analytics for free which will give you a good a vision of what your website is doing:

  • Who are your visitors?
  • How do you acquire them?
  • What are they doing on your website?
  • Do you get conversion?

In order to improve your conversion rate, you should get this 3 step mindset:

  1. Measure
  2. Analyze
  3. Optimize

Tips: Have a look at your Exit rate. If one of your pages has an Exit rate more than 70%, and it’s not your “thank you page” for purchasing, you should probably try to improve it. It’s also possible to use complementary tools as Hotjar and Mixpanel to more deeply understand your visitor journey.

3) Blog: Content is the key

Developing a blog is the best way to display your expertise to your community. Too many people think that it is unnecessary or that it requires too much time. You need to understand that before to ask, you need to give. Sharing your experiences, experiments, tips and advice is a good way to show your community that you are effective at what you do and that you have real value to offer.

To find topics on which to write, you can ask yourself: what problems are my potential customers facing? An article is often an answer to a question. Help your potential customers reduce their pain point and have the possibility to receive a  great outcome in terms of engagement. Neil Patel is known as the content marketing Guru, take time to read his articles, it will help you. 

Moreover, writing blog posts will aid your website in ranking better on Google thus leading to more free traffic. If you use WordPress, Yoast SEO is a free plugin that assists in improving your SEO. Here is a screenshot of the list Yoast SEO provides to do so:
Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

Finally, finding the right keyword is easier with bunch of free tools such as Google Trends. It shows you which keywords are widely searched on Google and thus which ones drive traffic.

Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

4) Emailing is branding

Emailing is still one of the most efficient and effective ways to reach customers. While it’s a great way to acquire users, it is also extremely valuable in increasing retention. A human brain cannot remember all the information it receives in a single day. A lot of people might land on your website and like what you do, but will not have the time to read all of your content. They will still be very interested in what you can offer them, though.

In this case, it is vital reach out to them through email. Sending them a monthly/weekly newsletter is one way to do it but if you really want to improve your retention, you should create a mail automation funnel. This is a serie of 5 or 10 mails, which provides value and knowledge in a logical order. The goal is to create relationship built on trust, showing that you are not simply a spammer but an expert who is happy to help his community to grow. You could become the industry reference for them. This will hopefully lead to a good-word-of-mouth with an increase in sales of your product. Even if your opening rate is low, your subscriber will see your name on the mail – this still counts as branding.

To build your list through which you send newsletters and automation mails, I would advise you to use Mailchimp. It’s the most commonly used, free at first and simple to set up. To reach someone, you can use hunter.io to find a mail using the domain name of the company.
Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

5) Growth Hacking

Before using various methods to acquire traffic, understand that Growth Hacking is a mindset. One begins by grasping user psychology, how to delve into your target audience, figure out what motivates them, what they like, what they fear, what is their real pain point. You need to view every channel you use on a daily basis in different ways. How can you best leverage them to drive traffic and entice users to your website.

If you want to learn more about Growth Hacking, have a look to Hackisition, Startup Marketing, Coelevate, and Startupfood.

Here is the AARRR, the growth hacking funnel from Dave McClure:

Master your Digital Marketing Strategy

Acquisition: How do you acquire visitors to your website?

Example: By creating your digital ecosystem

Activation: How do you activate them?

Example: By ensuring they understand your benefits, thus leading to taking action.

Retention: How do you make sure they come back?

Example: By developing your digital ecosystem

Revenue: How do you make money?

Referral: How do you make them spread the word and become an evangelist?

Example: By creating the best value and user experience for them.

 

To conclude, I’ll give you 3 tips to increase your number of followers for free:

20% creation / 80% distribution

  1. Facebook: Search the facebook groups you believe contain potential customers and share your facebook page in them with a short text explaining the benefits of following you. If you share within 15 well targeted groups per day, you’ll get 50+ followers a day.
  2. Twitter: Go to your competitors accounts and follow all their followers. You should be able to follow a minimum of 500 accounts per day and 10% will follow you back. To improve your distribution, you can try a tool like Statusbrew and use Post Recycler to schedule and more effectively post random content during timings that have the most impact.
  3. Instagram: Go to your competitors accounts and follow all their followers. You should be able to follow a minimum of 500 accounts per day and 20% will follow you back.

Don’t wait anymore, it’s time to build your digital ecosystem!

Pierre GUILBAUD, Startup Manager at NUMA Bengaluru.

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