How To Pitch

Q: What is the format of a pitch?

Each pitch follows this format:

  • First, the startup founder gives a 2 minute pitch
  • Each pitch is followed by 3 minutes of Q&A.  Questions will come primarily from the panel but also from the audience.
  • Finally, each startup will receive 3 minutes of advice from the panel.  During this section, the startup founder is only listening, not responding.

Q: What topics should my pitch cover?

Your pitch must cover the following information.  You only have 2 minutes, so be sure to rehearse so you can cover everything.

  • Basics: Your name and title, your company’s name
  • Business Summary: Product/service description and revenue model
  • Revenue model: How do you make money
  • Management Team
  • Target Market: Target audience/customer
  • Sales/Marketing Strategy
  • Competitive Analysis

Q: How can I make the most of my pitch?

  • You should definitely rehearse your pitch before the event.  You only get two minutes to speak, so make the most of it.  The more you rehearse the better you’ll be.
  • Ultra Light Startups has partnered with Mac Lipscomb, a CEO coach and investor pitch/fundraising expert.  Mac provides free presentation training for all Ultra Light pitchers.  You will be notified of how to schedule this training after your pitch application has been approved.  Be sure to take advantage of this
  • At the moment, we do not have the ability to let you show a PowerPoint slideshow with your pitch.  We will show your website on the screen for the audience to see.  Since you won’t have the benefit of slides, make sure you cover all of the mandatory content in your pitch verbally.
  • You can see the order of the pitches on the event program and on the spreadsheet displayed on the big screen.  Be ready when the person ahead of you is speaking (i.e. when you are “on-deck”)
  • It’s very important to speak directly into the microphone – and keep it very close to your mouth.  If you don’t, nobody can hear you and nothing you say will matter.  Not being able to hear the speaker is by far the #1 cause of complaints about bad pitches.
  • The audience (and anyone on Twitter) will pick their top favorite startup pitches through the Twitter voting system mentioned above.  All prizes are awarded on the basis of Twitter voting.  Feel free to have your friends attend and vote for you.

Q: How do I win the pitch contest?

The most important factors in winning are:

  1. Have a pitch that people can understand.  If  the audience can’t immediately grasp what you do, the’re probably not going to vote for you.  For best results, practice your pitch early and often.
  2. Have a compelling product and business.
  3. Have your friends there to support you. The more of your supporters you have voting for you, the better your chances.

Here’s a great article on NYConvergence about why IndieWalls, Resoomay, and MyStream won in December 2011.

Q: Can I bring a PowerPoint deck?  What will be shown on the screen for the audience?

We’d love to be able to show powerpoint slide shows at Ultra Light events, but we avoid doing so because it creates logistical difficulties and slows down the show.  In order to get through 8 pitches in 90 minutes, each pitch must follow the previous one without delay in between.  We’ve found in the past that using PowerPoint slides (queueing up the slide deck, having someone navigate, etc) inevitably takes time and slows down the show.  To avoid these delays and keep the show on schedule, we don’t allow pitchers to use separate files (powerpoint, PDF, etc) for their pitch.

Instead of powerpoint, we show the startup’s website on the screen for the audience to see. At the beginning of the pitch we start by displaying your site’s home page.  As you are speaking, we scroll and click around the site for the benefit of the audience.  You can tell us where to click, but we’ll be driving the browser itself.  It’s best not to focus too much on what’s happening on the screen.  Try to focus your attention on what you’re saying and ignore the screen.

If you absolutely must show slides, you can upload a presentation to a service like SlideShare and link to this presentation from somewhere on your own website. But please beware that any time spent bringing up the slideshow (typing in a link, logging in, etc) comes out of your 2-minute pitch.  Two minutes is already very short, and we strongly advise against doing anything fancy.  It’s best to focus on what you say rather than slides.

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