3 Keys to an Effective Pitch that Seed Spot Teaches Entrepreneurs
Seed Spot, a Phoenix, Arizona incubator that supports social entrepreneurs, has become a force in the startup community, with national and international media exposure and entrepreneurs whose products and services have impacted more than 300,000 lives. At their recent spring Demo Day in May, the spotlight was on their latest cohort of ventures as they all took to the stage at ASU’s Herberger Theatre in front of nearly a thousand fans and followers to share their individual journeys and showcase the positive impact their businesses provide.
The incubator's full-time program is a mix of mentoring, business development, and high-level access, but what the incubator does REALLY WELL is prepare their entrepreneurs for the big stage of Demo Day. Here are the 3 biggest lessons for other entrepreneurs crafting their pitch.
With Practice Comes Polish
Every Friday, Seed Spot’s ventures pitch in front a live audience. These individuals are not just friends and family who rave about their presentation; on the contrary, these are leading experts in their industries and powerful members of the entrepreneurial community who offer constructive feedback on everything from the business model and value proposition to the specific design of a slide deck. And what’s great? They do it EVERY week. This allows for the complete refinement of the entrepreneur’s presentation.
Salesforce’s Daryl Spreiter cited 8 steps for a powerful presentation, and, not surprisingly, engagement and preparation made the list. Seed Spot starts their entrepreneurs early on the importance of a well-crafted pitch, and it never eases off the gas throughout the duration of their program. They also work closely with their companies to design simple, powerful and sleek PowerPoint presentations that convey their message.
Define the Problem, Validate the Solution
Is there a REAL problem and is your product the one to solve it? Every entrepreneur launching a startup needs to ask these questions, and, more importantly, answer them through customer feedback, whether they are pitching for investment or providing a simple overview presentation. There are various terms that describe it: problem-solution fit and product-market fit; customer discovery and validation; etc. However, the mission remains the same – determine if there truly is a need for your product or service. Seed Spot ventures are challenged to acquire feedback, but they ensure that the problem and their solution are appropriately illustrated in their pitch deck.
Seed Spot Co-Founder Courtney Klein summmed it up perfectly: “No one has the answer except your customer. Lots of people come up with some fancy idea, an awesome website, some cool technology but after they spend a ton of time and money they realize that no one wanted it or was willing to pay for it. You have to be sure you are solving a problem for people AND that those people are willing to pay for your solution” (Adventures in Changemaking with Courtney Klein, ASU Magazine).
According to Joanne Cleaver, one of the 3 steps to a perfect 3-minute pitch is to tell them the right story. It is your opportunity to grab the attention of your audience and engage them as human beings. From the moment a Seed Spot venture walks on the stage, they capture your imagination. Most even have a direct personal connection to the problem that their business addresses.
Sara Henry of Wellness Lifestyle, one of the spring 2015 ventures, shared an emotional story of losing both her parents within 6 months to cancer in large part due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise. As a result, she began her company to “empower students to lead change on campus around health and wellness.” Almost all of the entrepreneurs offered similar experiences, and they told their stories with emotion and purpose.