I’ve been to two Startup Weekends. I don’t feel like an expert, but I’ve learned some things along the way that I’m sharing. Hopefully you’ll find them valuable as well.
Perry’s Startup Weekend Pitch Tips:
What is the end goal of your product or service?
The judges want to know what the purpose of the product or service is that you’ve spent all weekend creating. Chances are pretty good that if you don’t know or understand the end goal, the judges won’t either. Be very clear, and focused; this is what my product does, and this is the market.
Start with the problem. Frame it with a story.
Stories are a great way to engage people into your pitch. Setup your product or service with an interesting user story. What is their pain? How is your product going to relieve their pain or otherwise create joy? Why is your product or service better than the competition?
Putting lots of big numbers on the big screen will draw more snickers than wows. Proforma financials can be fun to create, but don’t focus on it. Anyone who’s been in business knows its all bullshit; at least at the Startup Weekend stage.
Don’t ask for money.
I will guarantee that investors will not be writing checks after the pitches on Sunday night. SW is a great time to get investors interested in you, your team, and what your product is. “Show me the customers” is what you’ll hear when asking investors to “show me the money.”
Customer validation is important. Talk about it.
It may not be convenient and may be hard to reach people on the weekend, but this may be the single most important aspect of what you’ve accomplished over the weekend. All “biz dev” hands should be emailing, tweeting, talking, and smoke signaling potential customers. Use that info your pitch.
Focus on the product/market fit.
After you’ve identified your customer, tweak your product with their feedback. Have you found the right product for the right customer? How do you know? Telling the judges “These were our assumptions going in to the weekend, but this how we pivoted based on our feedback,” is magic to judges ears.
Empathize with the audience and judges.
Chances are good that if you have a hard time explaining to your team and other teams what your product or service is, the judges won’t either. The judges will ultimately decide who the winners will be, get to know them. Do they have a similar pain to your target market? Will the “get it?”
Slides are to emphasize, not distract.
Slides can provide supplemental information, but try not to use it as a crutch. Be the story teller, engage the audience and judges with your eyes and mannerisms.
Start working on pitches right away.
Its never too early to start working on the pitch. It comes up quick! Start working on the pitch Saturday morning.
Shy? Public speaking not your thing? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. SW is a safe environment to try something new and get valuable experience. Take advantage of it.