Pitching and Pitch Prep


My startup just was selected as a semifinalist in a local state-run business plan competition. I'm very excited about this, the first prize is pretty decent and would really provide some help with getting certain things moving forward.

I've read some negative feedback here about the lack of value of these competitions. While I agree they definitely take time, I have also learned a TON from writing the business plan about the industry and the marketplace, and validated (and changed) a lot of the assumptions from when I first came up with the idea.

In the other regards, my partner is still hard at work developing our product, so getting the opportunity to create the plan and practice my chops speaking are opportunities I'm exited about. A few questions I've come up with, though:

For a business plan comp, should a pitch:

  1. Include what we are looking for in funding? No, right, since they don't care?
  2. Should I dress up? Entrepreneurs, particularly tech entrepreneurs, are notoriously dressed-down, but since this is judged by some academia, I'm expecting I probably should reconsider shorts and a red sox hat ;)
  3. If we dont' have a demo product yet, (still in development, no way it will it be ready in 2 weeks) we have a few options: first, mockup a demo with screen shots or balsamiq. Two; mockup a demo with forced data returns so it works, just only for what we are using to show screen flow and usage, or three should I just explain the idea and can the demo since it's not up yet?

I'm very encouraged right now. This idea sprung only 7 short weeks ago and the amount of we have done since then, both still working full time, is really encouraging to me. I haven't been this excited about anything other than my marriage and potentially having kids, haha.

Any other general tips on pitching would be appreciated. I've read Kawasaki's books and tips on the 10/20/30 rule and am basically running with that on my pitch deck right now.

Thx all - Nick

EDIT: I ended up using Balsamiq to finish all my initial screen flow mock-ups, I'm really happy with it so far. I'm looking forward to pitching this thing the week after next; hopefully being selected as a finalist ;)


asked Apr 19 '11 at 11:43
1,171 points
  • I'm also interested about this – Leadgy 13 years ago

3 Answers


Don't let the naysayers get you down. A chance to talk about your business in front of smart people is always good early. Good practice, might get some good feedback (though I wouldn't take them too seriously if it doesn't RING TRUE with your gut).

  1. If they don't care about it, don't tell them.
  2. Be yourself. There are smart ways to dress casually. I wouldn't look like a bum.
  3. Visuals work. If you can do it with forced data returns, I'd do that. People don't want to hear about what it will do, they want to see what it does.

Good luck!

answered Apr 19 '11 at 23:46
Andy Swan
1,656 points


Focus on two things:

  1. how your approach solves a problem that no one else is solving or solves it better than any of the current approaches available in the market.
  2. how you'll be able to generate revenue and profit

Keep it simple, use real world analogies, no jargon and keep coming back to how you fix a problem.

No Red Sox hat and shorts but you don't need a 3 piece suit, either.

If you have a demo that actually works - great - show that - - but - unless it's perfect and easy to follow, don't rely on a demo - just use screen shots.

answered Apr 19 '11 at 23:52
Fitness Guy
316 points


Visit Stanford's eCorner for lots of tips on pitching, & maybe play (ex-Apple marketer, currently a VC) Guy Kawasaki's video(s) on markerting (Not all will apply, but some may).

answered Sep 6 '11 at 12:08
6 points
  • Links would be helpful. – Karlson 11 years ago

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