Last year I heard about a competition pitch event in Atlanta, Georgia called StartupRiot. Since the event is free to pitch at, and LessAccounting.com can always use more exposure, I thought “why not?” So I applied to pitch and got accepted. The event last year had over 400 attendees, and 50 companies pitched their products/ideas. At the end of the day, the attendees voted on pitches that they liked the most. My pitch won, and we received over $8,000 in prizes.
After watching 50 or so, you’ll notice major mistakes in the construction of a company’s pitch. As some of you know, I’m very handsome but not a great writer, so with Steve’s help, we came up with a killer pitch that gave us hundreds of retweets, tons of new customers and even a mention on CNN and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The following are my tips for pitching at StartupRiot:
If you’re not funny, don’t try to be. I always err on the side of stupidity and being obnoxious, but sometimes, it actually works out. I won because my humor was unusual. Most people tried to be very professional. I was myself. I was funny. I ended my pitch with “…and if you sign-up today for LessAccounting.com I’ll give you one free four-minute piggy back ride.” This quote made it onto CNN.
Figure out who you are pitching to, and target your pitch toward those people. Are you pitching because you want funding? I pitched because I wanted everyone to talk about our product. Mission accomplished. Slides don’t matter. What you say is what people will remember. Forget swag, booths, suits and teeth whitening. Hustle. Practice a lot. Don’t read from your cards. Look around. Memorize the general pitch. Say it thirty times in your hotel room. Pitch to someone else who doesn’t know your product. In fact, Skype me (lessallan), and pitch it to me. I’d be happy to give you feedback. There’s nothing more painful than someone trying to be funny that isn’t or someone losing their place and freezing up or forgetting what they’re talking about. Don’t be that guy.
Say things people can Tweet. Here are some of my quotes: “QuickBooks is fucking horrible.” “With your help, we’ll topple the evil QuickBooks.” “All book-keeping applications suck, but we suck the least.” “Did you know Quickbooks is the #1 reason for suicide in America…it’s true. It’s on their website.”
This will cool you’re nerves a bit. Don’t listen to your lizard brain. The lizard brain will talk you out of doing something great. The night before, I almost talked myself out of pitching. I felt so much pressure to be amazing. My expectation of myself is always higher than what others put on me. If you’ve never heard of the “lizard brain” it’s that little voice that comes up with reasons to prevent you from doing something great. Read more about Seth Godin’s explanation of the lizard brain.
The following questions should be answered in no more than two sentences.
Answer these questions and cut back on the words until you have the shortest possible answer.
Pitching your product is easy once you realize the key things people need to hear to get excited about your application. StartupRiot 2010 brought LessAccounting some great notoriety and linkage. If you’re considering pitching—do it. Forgot that little voice that says you’ll be terrible. Say things people will remember, and be yourself.
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