Mark Lyttleton, Prana Partners Founder: Presenting the Perfect Pitch
Mark Lyttleton is the founder of Prana Partners, an organisation launched with the mission of increasing humanity and collaboration in business, sharing knowledge gained over decades of investing in companies. This article will look at pitching, providing pointers to help pitching teams stage compelling presentations – whether their goal is to raise funding for the business or attract new customers.
Every pitch has a purpose and there are many different types. For example, it may be a sales pitch presented with the goal of selling the company’s products or services; an investor pitch to raise capital; an elevator pitch for a summary of the project; or an employee pitch for onboarding.
Having a clear purpose from the outset helps the pitching team to decide exactly what information to disclose and how to present this in a compelling way. The purpose of the pitch should be measurable by an outcome. For example, if the goal is to raise a particular amount of capital, the team need to conduct a debrief evaluating their success following the pitch and modify any elements where they fell short.
Pitching teams need to ensure they have the right materials, including a teaser of the business idea, an outline of the problem the product solves, an outline of team background and financials, and an overview of the wider market.
Developing a great product is just one part of building a successful business. Leadership will need to identify and explain precisely how they intend to get their product onto the market, providing information on distribution channels. Big targets may sound impressive, but it is important for pitching teams to keep forecasts reasonable, identifying where they may have over or underestimated. It is crucial to keep expectations realistic to provide breathing space if and when unexpected obstacles arise. Prana Partners suggests that start-ups should assume things cost twice as much, taking twice as long to deliver half as much as expected.
A great pitch is not only impassioned but thoughtful, logical and grounded in fact. Each pitch must be relevant to that particular investor. It is therefore crucial for the pitching team to gain an adequate grasp of the audience’s knowledge of the relevant market, enabling presenters to pitch at the appropriate level.
While one joke can lighten the atmosphere, a multitude of quips will impact the audience’s ability to take the pitcher seriously. It is crucial to demonstrate industry and specific knowledge, identifying potential issues that could arise and conveying the business’s ability to resolve potential problems. Where a concept is difficult to understand, using an analogy can be helpful.
An effective pitch provides sufficient information about the project to satisfy the pitch’s purpose but not so much that it dilutes the message or bores the audience. A well-crafted pitch to investors provides an outline of a tangible problem that requires a solution, then demonstrates how the product or service offered by the company will solve that problem. The pitching team will need to show or explain how their product works, having developed a minimum viable product. They will also need to address aspects such as market size, marketing strategy and business model, as well as providing an overview of` the team, market competition, funds and financials. A great investment pitch will also include a timeline delineating the business’s progression backed up by metrics pertaining to revenue; milestones and important events, such as capital raising rounds; and number of acquired customers.
Pitching is an art that centres around storytelling, enabling founders to communicate their message to audiences in a compelling way. A great pitching team is one of the greatest assets a company can have, engaging people and implanting memories in audiences’ minds at a personal level to create an emotional connection. Although a pitch essentially provides an overview of the venture, it is important for founders to keep in mind that investors are equally buying into the people behind that business. During the presentation, pitching teams must act collaboratively, demonstrating cohesion, as well as openness to input and learning. Sharing experience learned from mistakes, asking questions and admitting what they do not know helps founders to present themselves in a more authentic, pragmatic and trustworthy way.
While it may be tempting to think that successful entrepreneurs are simply born with the gift of the gab, in reality, crafting and staging pitches is an art that can be learned with practice and effort. Careful preparation is crucial. Entrepreneurs not only need a good grasp of their company but also of the wider industry, conducting careful research into their market rivals. Investing the time and effort into research and preparation helps founders to exude confidence – a key component in any winning pitch. Having done their homework, the pitching team can face their audience safe in the knowledge that they have prepared for all eventualities, including questions that could throw them off kilter and potentially cost them dearly.