The Beauty of the 60 Second Pitch

17 01 2016

Speaker with megaphoneIt sounds so easy.  Getting people to listen and absorb a concept to get their attention and to get funded.   And all you need to do is spend only 60 seconds to get their attention.  Scream it out!  It’s just not that hard.  Or is it?

Being pithy is very difficult.   It’s easy to ramble, be loquacious and to get enamored with yourself, your product, and your technology, that you forget that listeners, especially investors, don’t t have the patience or time to struggle through your pitch.   Think about the networking events you attend.  How much time do you get to garner peoples’ attention?  Not much.  If you can strike a chord though, the listener will ask for more.    For those readers in the corporate world, it is not much different. Making a pitch to the Board, or your own boss, requires you to get to the point and capture their interest once the small talk and pleasantries (if there are any pas.)

Let’s talk about the beauty of a 60 second pitch and how to construct one.  These ideas can help the budding entrepreneur who is approaching an investor or an executive making a presentation to other executives, clients, or business partners.   And on March 10, 2016 at the Segerstrom, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to compete in TechCoastAngel’s Celebrating the Entrepreneur Fast Pitch Competition.   But they only have 60 seconds!!!  How do they do this?

Let’s step back for a second.  Why a 60 second pitch?  In 60 seconds, the entrepreneur can provide significant information.  In conversational speech, a person can talk at the rate of 130-160 words per min.   That means that the speaker can “read” the first two paragraphs of this blog in that time.   That’s a lot of information.   The goal of the 60 second pitch is to get to the next stage which is when the listener says I am interested; tell me more.  That is really the only goal of the 60 second pitch.  Then the entrepreneur will have more information to provide in a 2 minute pitch, a 5 minute pitch or a formal 15-20 minute pitch complete with deck and props.

What are the components of a pitch?  I teach something a little different than others.  I hear more than 500 pitches per year as part of TechCoastAngels.  Most of these pitches never get to the pre-screen or screening process unfortunately for a variety of reasons.    In the simplest form, the first things I would like to hear are something like the following:

Hi. My name is David and I am founder and CEO of MegaTech Company.  Imagine you have the following problem as more than 1M companies have.   We solve that problem by using technology/process/people/tools and by so doing, do it faster/better/cheaper (or finally can do it at all because this is a new to the world product) than our competitors.  Unlike competitors such as TitanCorp which solve similar problems using X, our technology/process/people will do it in in a way that has the benefit of X, Y, and Z.

That takes about 30 seconds to state and now you can provide more details to the audience.  The pitch provides some credibility by stating you are the CEO.  You are free to add something like … and I have done this before in 2 other start-ups that have had successful 10x exits.  (Certainly that would capture my attention!!)  Second, by using the word “Imagine,” it puts the listener in the shoes of those that have the problem and now the listener can relate to the words being said.  Third, it provides context in what you, the entrepreneur are doing, who you believe the competition, why you are different in positioning your company, and the moat surrounding your business.

And now your attention turns to what us investors want to hear.   In the remaining 30 seconds we want to hear something to address the following four questions, or at least most of them>

What is the market?  Example: there are 55 million businesses that have this problem today.

Can you make the business or product work?   We have filed for 4 patents and 2 have been granted.  Our team of John who was a former COO our advisory board consisting of Nobel Laureate Milton will help us execute the plan

Can you make money?  Using a subscription model, within 3 years we can achieve revenue of $10 million and within 5 years we will achieve $50 million.  Based on similar companies that have had exits such as Aardvark, Cougar, and Turtle, we can get a 10X return.

What do you need to be successful?  We are looking for $1 million dollars for 20% of our company and that money will be used for building partnerships and direct sales.

Certainly there can be more said.  In fact, you may not be able to get all these points across in 60 seconds.  But you get the point.  Pithy is very good and required.  And practice makes perfect.

I trust this helps not only entrepreneurs, but also intrapreneurs funded by “corporate venture” when pitching to them.   The beauty of the 60 second pitch though is that it puts the listener in the shoes of the people having the problem you are trying to solve and gives them context and expectation that you can solve that problem by telling this 60 second story.

Everyone who pitches is different.  When you pitch you are telling a story and you have to feel comfortable in the tempo and components of your story. I don’t want to make it sound like this is the only way to pitch because it is not.  There are other ways to tell the story and a good coach or consultant can help the entrepreneur make the pitch.  Best wishes.





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