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How to pitch your startup: 9 tips from an expert

Ah, the joys of pitching. Your entire masterplan has been squeezed into a few sentences, a roomful of powerful strangers who hold your future in their hands, and only seconds to impress them. Who doesn’t love a quick dip in the shark tank?

Too many people, unfortunately. Luckily for them, pitching coach David Beckett is here to help.

Beckett has spent decades mastering the art of public speaking. He first honed his skills through over 1,000 corporate presentations in 16 years at Canon, before switching to the crisper craft of startup pitches.

In 2013, Beckett founded Best3Minutes, which provides in-person and online training in his method. The techniques have now been taught to over 1,800 startups and scaleups, which have raised over €420 million between them.

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“My goal is not to tell people what to say,” Beckett told TNW. “My goal is to give them a framework to find their story, practice it, and deliver it to their audience.”

On March 30 at TNW Valencia, Beckett will be giving his latest pitching workshop. Before the session, he shared some of his top tips for startups.

1. Tune in to your audience

Your pitch needs to be in line with your audience’s desires. Who are they? What is important to them? How can you impress them?

Imagine you’ve built a crypto-powered parking app. You can rave about the benefits of storing driver data on a distributed ledger, but few people enjoy the torture of a blockchain.

“When we work on something day in and day out, we often want to tell people what we’ve created—but the audience doesn’t care,” says Beckett.

“Performance comes from your product, process and team.

A more powerful pitch will reflect the real world effect. You could say (if it’s true, of course) that people waste 20 minutes every day looking for a parking space. With the click of a button, your app cuts the time down to 60 seconds.

However, that example may not thrill everyone. In order to get your audience to do what you want, you need to know who they are.

2. Focus on the Problem and the Solution

Your pitch needs to focus on pain and benefit. It should fit into a simple statement that describes what you can do for customers.

A human problem makes the issues more relevant. What is the result of pain? How big is the problem? Will people pay to solve this? How have you verified this? Investors want these answers.

“The things that particularly trigger them are the size of the opportunity and the execution against that opportunity,” says Beckett. “And the execution part is the product, the progress, and the team.”

3. Establish a Clear Purpose

A successful pitch results in action. The end goal is often a defined investment, but startups usually need to take a different first step. This could be a follow-up meeting, an introduction, or scanning a QR code that shows the audience further information. The most important result is maintaining a connection.