“The main goal of your pitch is not to get the investor interested, but to get them act,” sums up Audra Shallal, angel investor and CEO of BOSS Consulting. She coached the companies that participated in the International Venture Academy program in making appealing pitches to potential investors.
Audra Shallal knows that authenticity and clarity are the strengths of a good pitch. As an angel investor and coach, she has heard hundreds – if not, thousands – of speeches in her life.
– A pitch is a summary of your company’s business plan. It is not about selling a product, but about your business. The key is to be genuine, to explain precisely how you run your business: what you are aiming for and what do you need to get there, she says.
A start-up entrepreneur who focuses on their own business may not realize that angel investors constantly hear quite similar pitches that praise their own product, company, or the originality of an innovative solution with varied superlatives.
– In our ears, overstating adjectives have long since lost their power. Instead, use a few carefully chosen words in your pitch and focus on them, Shallal advises.
According to Shallal, two of the most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs in their pitches are ignoring the team presentation and the competitive conditions.
– Entrepreneurs know that their teams are important, but while pitching, it is easy to forget that and focus only on business. However, it is crucial for the investor to know that the company has the prerequisites to get the business to take off and that they have the right people and the team to implement it, says Shallal.
– When presenting the team, it is a good idea to present the roles the team members have played in the company so far and the results they have already achieved. This is much more interesting for an investor, instead of describing a person’s academic background or previous work history.
Identify your competitive differentiation
In their pitches, a large number of entrepreneurs emphasize the innovativeness of their own product and ignore the field of competition or handle it superficially. Shallal points out that this could seem to angel investors like a failure to do one’s homework.
– Even if a company does not have any direct competitors, there are always indirect ones. Investors may not be familiar with your company’s market field, so they want to see, for example, a close comparison of what the company’s three main competitors are and how you position yourself in relation to them in terms of product development, pricing and similar criteria. They want to identify what makes your solution unique, Shallal explains.
And those running a start-up rarely have the opportunity to hire all necessary executives right from the start.
– Here too, clarity and transparency serve potential collaboration: the entrepreneur should distinctly identify and communicate what competence they already have and what they are currently lacking, says Shallal.
Audra Shallal’s tips for a great pitch
- Be genuine. Be yourself.
- Be clear about what you aim for and what you ask for.
- Don’t underestimate the market – consider the competitive field and your own credibility in the field.
- Set a goal for your pitch: for example, booking a new appointment.
- Communicate value, empathy and urgency.
- Keep the pitch short, 1–2 minutes.
HealthZilla, Food4Future and NursieHealth to the EBAN Congress
At the International Venture Academy, the coaching sessions emphasized some of the key steps involved in presenting an effective pitch and provided the entrepreneurs with inspiration, effective tools, and increased awareness of the challenge of entrepreneurship in today’s highly competitive business environment.
Companies that develop wellbeing with the help of artificial intelligence will be the top successors of the year. The three companies selected for the EBAN finals held earlier in June were Food4Future, NursieHealth and HealthZilla.
– During the intensive innovation academy, it was so rewarding to see how the entrepreneurs were able to convert their passion, and storytelling into a “pitch with purpose”. The selected startups were successfully able to take the challenge of communicating their “secret sauce” to their target audience in order to “motivate them to act” by constructing a powerful one minute elevator pitch, Shallal says.
– The selected companies were willing to take the risk of sharing their “personal story” and “entrepreneurial journey” in order to extract the “uniqueness” and “benefits” of the products or services their company is offering in order to not only make a difference to its clients but to make an impact on the society as a whole, she sums up.
HealthZilla is a Finnish application that supports wellbeing. It allows users to aim for permanent changes and a more holistic, healthier lifestyle. The application collects data on a person’s health status and analyzes and makes individual suggestions to the user based on this situation and progress. The application is compatible with almost all smart devices currently on the market.
The French company Food4Future manufactures a home-grown device for spirulina, which is known to be a superfood. The strong health effects of spirulina are of interest to a wide range of consumers. However, it is mainly only dried spirulina that is currently available on the market. Fresh spirulina is a much more pleasant choice for the health-conscious consumer: it tastes good and retains all of the vitamins. Food4Future manufactures equipment and supplies suitable for home education. Food4Future’s solution includes additional digital services to support home growing.
Finnish self-care application MyNursie has been developed for comprehensive and long-term self-care through, for example, monitoring the symptoms of diseases and treatment guidance.