What makes the perfect pitch?

I recently assisted with the pitch panels for Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) 2016, Scotland’s premier annual investor showcase of high-growth technology companies. Each panel lasts for a half day with four companies pitching their ideas.

By: Shaun Millican

The panel isn’t told in advance which companies they’ll see so every-thing we learn about them is on the basis of their six-minute pitch along with the Q&A. It is always something I look forward to and it’s enlightening to hear the views of other panel members, particularly if they are investors.

For 2016, all of the companies had an interesting proposition but some presented better than others. What then are the differentiating factors which can make the perfect pitch in the quest to secure investment?

Get off to a great Start

At EIE 2016 companies have just six minutes to make their presentation so it’s vital to grab the attention of the panel quickly. A short elevator-style pitch which covers the how, what and why of your proposition but avoids technical jargon is essential. Ideally, a nice clean visual aid which engages the audience also helps.

Articulate the Problem

The best pitches start with the problem from the customer perspective and go on to say how their solution would address it. If an investor doesn’t understand the problem, then they won’t buy into your solution no matter how impressive it is. Explain how your proposition is unique and the competi-tive advantage you’ll enjoy as a result.

Business Model

This was an area several of the companies struggled to articulate clearly, perhaps because of their relatively early stage. It won’t resonate with investors to adopt the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. You also need to be able to explain how you will generate revenues.

Market Size

Knowing the size and scope of your market should be a given. Investors want to put their money into compa-nies which have a disruptive proposi-tion in a big market, so providing an overview of the potential is imperative.

Other Considerations

Aside from the content, who presents and the style of presentation are important factors. The presenter should speak knowledgeably and passionately about the proposition. Visual aids are a double-edged sword: good ones help reinforce what is being said whilst poor, overly detailed slides can distract and put focus on the screen rather than the presenter. The best pitch I witnessed featured a presenter who was personable, passionate about his company with engaging visual (and audible!) aids. This approach helped take us on a very short but captivating journey to explain his company’s proposition.

As a proud sponsor of EIE16, Johnston Carmichael wishes the best of luck to all of the companies which are taking part in the event next month.

Shaun Millican is Head of Technology & Life Sciences at Johnston Carmichael