While at Bradley University, I entered the Project Springboard Business Plan Competition. The startup I entered, Toldmi, was an app that organized event information and presented it to college students based on their interests.
A few months before the final presentation, I was invited to an investor meetup. I was excited! I had been talking to professors and students about this for months, but this was my first shot to speak with investors who could potentially invest in my startup.
I walked up to a group of investors at the event, and one of them asked me what my company was. I started explaining it based on the technology we used. He didn’t understand. I tried explaining how information was gathered from Facebook Events and Eventbrite; he was unfamiliar with both. After trying to explain it several times, I gave up. I said, “it’s really hard to explain.” He was upset and turned around, and after realizing I had offended the investor, I was embarrassed. I vowed never to let that happen again.
I ended up getting my pitch in shape enough to win the competition a couple of months later, but I still look back on that one instance with regret. What if I would’ve been prepared? Would my startup have received funding and taken off?
To help you pitch yourself, I’d like to share four quick pitch tips that will help make sure you avoid the mistakes I’ve made. Please don’t hesitate to ask me for advice (email: Luchies.Michael@Gmail.com).
Four Quick Pitch Tips:
1. Share, don’t sell
In all situations, even a job interview, you want to allow your real self to shine through. You do this by sharing, not selling. Approaching a pitch in this way will help you build relationships, get to know people and allow them to get to know you instead of trying to force a bad fit. Share, and if you’re the right fit, you’ll get what you want.
2. Share a simple, relatable message
Keep it short and sweet. Think of Nike’s tagline, “Just Do It.” It doesn’t tell you what the company does, but it does get your attention and makes you want to know more. When first meeting or speaking with someone, keep your message short and relatable.
3. Why you?
The reason you want a job and why you’re the best fit for the position are both important. If you honestly feel that you are the best person for the job and sincerely want it, you need to be able to communicate that. Talk about why you’re passionate about the position. I will always hire someone with a lot of passion and little skill over someone with a little bit of passion and a lot of skill.
4. Call to Action
Close with a call to action. A pitch needs to have a goal, and there should always be something you hope to get out of each one. If you’re interviewing for a job, ask about the next step or if you could job shadow one of their employees for a day. Always use your pitch to take an additional step towards your goal.
“There are always a lot of great events happening around college campuses like Bradley, but as a student, it’s often hard to find information on these events, which means I’ve lost out on a lot. To enable students like me to find valuable events, I’m working on Toldmi, a mobile application that helps students find valuable social events. Could I give you my business card?”
The above pitch may not have gotten me an investment, but it does give my audience an idea of what my business does, my frustration with not being able to find events and a simple call to action, all while sharing and not selling.
Now it’s your turn. Share your pitch in the comments below!