The Chivas Venture competition doubles as a masterclass in pitching - a baptism of fire from which those with the skills and the ideas to back them up will emerge victorious, and with extensive experience in entrepreneurial persuasion.
From the strong focus on pitching and public speaking during the seminars and coaching sessions of Accelerator Week, through to the electrifyingly nerve-wracking atmosphere of stepping out and performing in front of a huge, high-profile audience at the live pitch finals - the Chivas Venture finalists past and present have all racked up a wealth of practical pitching knowledge accrued over the course of their time in the competition.
Having just seen this year’s finalists excel at the live finals in Los Angeles, the alumni from 2016 reflect on what they learned about pitching, and impart some choice wisdoms about the how to keep your nerves in check and articulate your message clearly.
WeFarm CEO and founder Kenny Ewan is a big advocate of shaping your pitch into a straightforward narrative.
“My two big pieces of advice for pitching are: 1) keep it simple, and 2) tell it as a story. Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve. We all have so many things to say about our businesses and the passion and missions that back them-up, but I’ve learned the hard way that the more you try and say the less people hear.
“Talk about your business from the point of view of a real customer or user. What did they do? How did they go through the process and what did they experience? This helps listeners to understand what you are offering and makes it relatable to them.”
“Know your audience and be properly prepared. Don’t get bogged down in details, and make sure you’re confident yet polite” suggests Jaco Gerrits, CEO of CrashDetech.
Habitec co-founder Felisberto Capamba also agrees that brevity is of the essence: “Have a summarised pitch that is precise and specific, and close with a strong, memorable point about your business.”
Onicio Leal, co-founder and CEO of Epitrack underlines the value of demonstrating your individuality: “Show why you are different and how you think differently from other people. This will help convince investors that only you have the capacity to achieve the numbers you’re presenting.”
“The investors want to see you no less than they want to see your idea - so be passionate about what you are presenting and make sure you properly reflect how you feel about your company.” comments Or Retzkin, CEO of EyeControl.
“You must be focused and stay calm. You already know everything - the only thing that can derail you is letting yourself become nervous.” says LocalAlike founder Pai Boonkam.
Mario Soto, co-founder of Diagnochip offers three top pieces of advice:
1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your product’s benefits, advantages and disadvantages.
2. Prepare the pitch based on how the mind of the investor works; consider rates, numbers, benefits to obtain, and why they should invest in you rather than anyone else.
3. Demonstrate the economic value of your company and on this base establish the amount of investment you require.
Charles Blaschke, MD of Taka Solutions emphasises the importance of going in strong and being aware that your pitch won’t necessarily appeal to everyone.
“A ‘pitch’ is just a conversation, or a story. Don’t get nervous or worry about the actual presentational aspect of it. Investors are people - in fact, they are interested people who need to give their money away - and they want you to be impressive so they can invest. Imagine you meet 100 strangers at a conference and tell them your idea; only 5 might understand it, like it and be interested in it. It’s the same with investors; not all of them will like it, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t let it get you down.”
Maria Pacheco, co-founder of Wakami promotes empathy and honesty: “Understand where your investors are coming from, and above all be true to yourself!”
“Keep your pitch accurate, deliver it with clarity, and be real.” says MotionECO founder Shutong Liu.
And finally, Edison Santos, founder and CEO of ECO Mensajería draws some unlikely inspiration from 90s grunge.
“Know your market, manage the numbers and be yourself! As much as they want to know about your business opportunity, they also want and need to know about you. There is no business without people, and you as a leader need to demonstrate why you are the founder, expert, visionary and game-changer, but also the friend, the human and the dreamer. So don’t sell yourself short but also don’t try to be someone else. As Nirvana sang: ‘come as you are!’”
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