The harsh reality that sometimes hit startup founders is that they need to pitch, always. If you want to attract investors, customers, or just get people excited about your idea, you will need to master the art of pitching. The ability to tell in a concise way what your startup does and deliver the message across in the right way, however, is not an easy task. According to GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), there are about 100 million startups launched every year. That’s about 3 startups every second. Before understanding how to craft the message in the right way, startup founders need to realize that not all the startup pitches are the same. Understanding the different type of startup pitch becomes vital for long-term success.
As a founder, you won’t have always much time to design and perfect your startup pitch, for this reason getting ahead of this task is important. The key here is that you learn how to adjust the messaging according to the situation you face. For example, startup competitions require a different type of startup pitch than when you meet someone at an event.
Nailing the messaging is key, but the content of the message is not the only thing to look at. Learning how to pitch a startup is a process that anyone can master and, more importantly, everyone working for you should also know. Every single employee, especially in the early days, should be an ambassador of your company. Making sure that everyone is on the same page, will facilitate your work as a founder.
Before learning how to pitch and what’s important in a pitch, it’s crucial to understand the types of startup pitch you can deliver.
The messaging or the structure of your startup pitch don’t matter if you use it in the wrong situation.
The 4 Types Of Startup Pitch
Depending on you are talking to and the situation you are in, the message around product pitch should be adjusted. Here below, we take a look at the 4 most common types.
The Twitter Pitch
This summarizes your whole idea in one punchy sentence. It has become common to create a comparison with well-known companies to facilitate this task for startup founders (and listeners). For this reason, we often hear:
“It’s the UBER of XYZ”
“It’s like Airbnb meets Facebook”
Despite this being still relevant and effective, I suggest you try to add something unique to it. In the last few years, startup founders have been abusing the comparison method, so it’s good to come at it from a different angle.
When To Use It? This is best for when you meet someone at an event and they have never heard of your company. A catchy, punchy line that explains in few words your company, but doesn’t bore to death the listener with useless information. Only at the question, “how does that work?”, you can go on and give more details.
The Elevator Pitch
This is a short description of your company. The idea is that this pitch should last as long as an elevator ride, that is between 15 seconds and a couple of minutes. However, on most occasion, your elevator pitch shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.
This has become increasingly important among startup founders, as VCs and angel investors get bombarded with startup pitches. The idea is that, once you have identified your target (i.e. an investor) you get his or her attention in as short as 30 seconds.
To craft a good elevator pitch, take the following things into consideration:
- Define the goal of your pitch – What do you want to get out of this? Is it a meeting? An opinion? Think about this before crafting your message.
- Explain briefly but clearly what you do – Can you be concise and still express the core idea of your startup?
- Communicate your USP – Are you able to identify one or two key differentiators for your startup?
- Engage the listener with one good question – What is the next step after you pitched your idea? Ask for it!
When To Use It? This could follow your “Twitter Pitch” or can be used when you know that the listener is open for pitches. I personally recommend not to go on for a 30 or even worse 60 seconds pitch when you first meet someone, especially at an event. An alternative, if you feel like the twitter punchline is not enough, is to think about a 15 seconds elevator pitch.
The Competition Pitch
This is longer than the previous two and it needs to be presented with a pitch deck. The deck you will be building is very similar to the one you would use to send to investors.
A crucial thing to understand is that in startup competition, startup founders have limited time (between 3 and 5 minutes) to explain what their startup does and its traction. In a competition pitch deck, it is crucial to replace words with images.
You will do the speaking, not your presentation.
While pitching at a competition, you might not want to get tangled in details. The pressure is high and you have a limited amount of time to catch everyone’s attention. You need to make the most out of it.
The Investor Pitch
As the competition pitch, you would be using a media deck to deliver your message. The investor pitch is somewhat similar to how you present your startup at a competition, however, the dynamic of the conversation is very different.
You need to do engage the listener, make him or her interested and be ready to get into details. Same as any other pitch deck, it’s best not to go over 10 slides, however, in these 10 slides you will need to give as many details as possible.
When talking with investors, make sure to spend time on the problem, solution (unique technology) and, of course, traction. This is THE pitch that you need to ready for. The people in front of you are the one that could give you money to transform your dream into reality.
As a founder, you need to make sure that you clearly understand the differences among these 4 types of startup pitch and work towards perfecting each one of these. Remember, the key to each one of these is the story. Every time you pitch someone, be it an investor or a client, it’s about crafting the right story that attracts interests and triggers emotions.
What worked for you when pitching your startup? Do you have any other tips to share with us? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.