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