Pitching: Before you Pitch

You’ve identified an unmet need in the market, and have come up with a fabulous idea for a startup. Maybe you’ve even launched a minimal product and have a business plan. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to get some other people on board, and one of the best tools you have at your disposal is your pitch.

Whether you want to give a quick elevator pitch to someone that’s interested in what you do or pitch directly to investors, there are several steps you need to take before you even develop your pitch!

PS: Keep on the lookout for pitch competitions hosted by ICUBE and our collaborators!

Know what type of pitch is involved.

As mentioned, there are several different types of pitches that are useful in different situations. Each of these involves a different goal and time frame, so you need to plan with that in mind.

An elevator pitch is typically a concise, 30-second to 2-minute pitch designed for brief encounters, such as a chance meeting with a potential investor or partner in an elevator. The goal of an elevator pitch is to grab the listener’s attention quickly and leave them intrigued enough to want to learn more about your startup. It’s like the “teaser” of your pitch arsenal – you should have it prepped, practiced, and ready to go.

A short-form pitch could run from 3 to 10 minutes, and gives you the opportunity to expand a bit more on your startup without going into exhaustive detail. Short-form pitches are often used in networking events, pitch competitions, or initial meetings with potential investors. Most often, competition judges will ask you to present in 5 minutes or less, so it’s very important to prepare accordingly!

Finally, you may get the opportunity to present a long-form pitch, which would run longer than 10 minutes. In a long-form pitch, you have the chance to provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of your startup. This format allows you to cover all critical aspects, including your story, the size of the market, competitors, a detailed monetization plan, your exit strategy, and the amount of capital you need.

For your elevator pitch, you should be able to deliver a compelling, concise message in a matter of seconds. Short-form pitches require a bit more elaboration without losing the audience’s interest, and long-form pitches demand a deep understanding of your startup and its potential.

Know who you’re pitching to.

Remember that pitching is a two-way street: you want to show off your ideas, business, and personality, but every person that you pitch to will have different preferences. Your pitch to investors should be very different from a pitch to prospective clients or employees. So, you need to do some research before you begin designing your pitch.

For example, if your audience is composed of investors interested in your startup, the three questions you need to ask yourself while researching your audience (according to Harvard Business School) are:

What industries do they invest in? Do they tend to specialize in a particular sector, or have specific passions and interests? Knowing this will help you understand which investors to approach and tailor your pitch to focus on their specialization.

What stage do they invest in? Do they mainly invest in early-stage startups seeking seed funding? Are they more interested in established businesses looking for growth capital? While planning for your pitch, estimate the amount of money and resources you need to launch, and focus on investors who tend to support your particular stage.

What is the investor’s track record? What companies have they financed? What background knowledge do they already have, and will your personalities work well together? Remember, some investors can become partners or critical members of your team – you need to make sure they’re the right person to fund your startup.

Overall, remember to do your homework! Understanding exactly what type of pitch is best and who you’re pitching to can set the stage for fruitful partnerships and backing. The key to success is in the preparation, and these steps are the foundation to build your pitch on. Next time, we’ll go into more detail on how to build your pitch itself.

Also, be sure to check out our Events page to see upcoming opportunities to show off your pitch with ICUBE! Visit https://icubeutm.ca/events/.





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Indigenous business training program created by RedBird Circle Inc. in partnership with UofT Libraries, ICUBE UTM and The Bridge at UTSC

An experiential learning program that follows the school 3 semesters schedule, for anyone with a great idea who wants to make it happen.

A boutique-style remote program to support your business development and help you grow through one-on-one support. This program is open all year.

A student-led creative studio with intends to serve the prototyping and design needs of our ventures and small businesses in our community.

This 2-day retreat is designed to help you reflect on your journey, what drives you, all the hats you wear and what is next for you and your social enterprise.