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Web Summit: How to be pitch perfect: fail to prepare, prepare to fail

November 2nd, 2015

As part of this year’s Web Summit, 200 startups from around the world will be competing in the ‘Pitch’ competition.

Pitch is the biggest startup competition of its type in Europe, with finalists presenting to a panel of international judges, made up of investors, journalists and established entrepreneurs, as well as thousands of attendees at the Web Summit, taking place in Dublin from tomorrow till Thursday.

Startups compete for a prize package of €10,000 from the sponsors at Audi. Startups will battle it out across three days for a chance to present on the main stage and be crowned winner.

Entrepreneur, investor and broadcaster Bobby Kerr imparts his top nine tips for entrants.

1 Get your story straight

Present a clear and easy-to-digest narrative of your business. How will your business change my life, save me money, save me time, or make me happier? Secondly, what separates it from the competition? How did it come to fruition? Did you have a moment of epiphany, a life-changing encounter, or was it a case of trial and error?

2 Sell yourselves as well as your product

Remember, you are selling yourself as much as your product. Give some consideration as to how you want to position yourself and your team. Too often in the past, I have seen startups that were so engrossed in their product that they completely neglected to sell themselves. Ultimately you are try to sell two key elements – first, your product, and second, that you are the best possible person to sell this product.

3 Time is of the essence

Use your time wisely. If you are given an allocated time to pitch, keep to that time. There is nothing more frustrating than poor time-management and there is no excuse for running over time!

4 Follow through on your vision

Two of the most important ingredients for any budding entrepreneur are persistence and tenacity. Every startup will encounter setbacks and disappointment at some stage in their development. Even the brightest idea combined with the most robust of business plans won’t amount to much unless you have a relentless persistence to overcome these challenges. Demonstrate that you have the prerequisite passion to see your vision through.

5 Tell me about your user community

If you’re expecting investors to help build your business, tell them about your user community. Investors want to back companies that show strong promise of developing a large user base. This may sound like a case of chicken and egg, but users are the key to your capital.

6 Know your numbers

If you are asking investors to part with their money, the very least they will expect is that you know the financials behind your business. This includes everything from current sales figures, investment to date, business targets, projected revenue, liabilities, and company assets. Hesitancy creates doubt, so make sure you sound sure of yourself on these details.

7 Tell us about your own investment

How much have you invested to date in the company and what did you spend this money on? Have you spent your money wisely?

Investors want to know that you are going to treat their capital with the same respect that you would treat your own. Demonstrate how you have maximised your own investment.

8 Be prepared for the difficult questions

You are asking for investors to take a big leap of faith by backing your vision. Therefore, expect them to ask some difficult questions. If you don’t know your product and business plan inside out, you will be exposed. Treat this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the market and confidence in your own offering.

9 Enjoy it!

Starting your own business is exhausting, stressful and all-consuming – but it’s also one of the most exciting things you can do, so enjoy it!


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