On Pitching for Start-Ups

How to rock the stage

Have you ever hit a wall before having to pitch your ideas to an investor or a group of investors knowing that this will be the opportunity of a lifetime?

Our winners of the World Summit Awards, who pitch up to 7 minutes in front of an international jury at the WSA Global Congress to be selected for the Global Champions of their categories, know the feeling of not knowing where to start on their pitch. With this piece, we bring some insights by Scott Schwertly of SlideShare to you, supporting you on rocking your next pitch.


Before anything, you’ll first need to create a pitch deck. So let’s begin on where to start!

        If you are looking to put your sales deck in a compelling way, Scott Schwertly has a five-stage structure you should follow.

        Stage one is relatability. The focus here is on the audience, not the presenter. Connect with your audience; bring yourself to their level in a creative way.

        Stage two is compatibility. This section gives you to build off of your statements from stage one, and explain the importance of your campaign.

        Stage three is all about stability. Here you offer a solution, and underline exactly where your message fits in.

        Stage four is deliverability. Take control of your presentation in this stage. Schwertly suggests that this stage serves as the “nuts and bolts of your argument.”

        Stage five is possibility. This stage will wrap up the presentation and give the audience a call to action. This is your dismount; make sure you stick the landing.

        If you want to see the above in action, Schwertly’s team has prepared a sample.

        According to Schwertly, the average amount of time an investor takes to look at a pitch is 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

        This truth speaks to the idea that when pitching, you need to focus only on the most important details, creating a “short pitch.”

When pitching, Schwertly suggests there are 5 essential elements to consider;

The first, optimize your design.

The concept around this element is to raise money you have to spend money. When creating a design, invest time and money by hiring professionals who will help you develop captivating visuals. The visuals you create will resonate more with investor than your words. With only minutes to process your pitch, clean graphics will only improve the quality of your pitch.

The second essential element is “including the critical ten.”

According to Schwertly, a solid pitch deck always touches on 10 items;

  1.         The Company (and their vision.)
  2.         The Problem
  3.         The Solution
  4.         The Opportunity
  5.         Product/Service
  6.         Team
  7.         Revenue Model
  8.         Competition
  9.         Financials
  10.         The Ask

The order these come in is not important, however touching on each is a definite must.

Thirdly, you need to hone in specifically on the financials.

The financials, backed by Harvard research, is the portion of the pitch investors spend the most time reading. Their study proved that not only are the financials the most important thing on the list above, they tell us that over 20 seconds are spent reading and reviewing this specific slide.

The fourth thing you need to focus on is formatting.

Schwertly suggests distributing everything related to your pitch deck as a PDF. Rather than risking formatting issues, PDF-ing everything will make your work seamlessly available across platfroms.

The fifth and final tip offered by Schwertly is making sure your pitch makes it into the hands of the right person. Rather than sending out your pitch to the masses, identify who would have a connection to your cause, and target them accordingly.

In the end, developing a pitch and having it critiqued is no walk in the park, however if you pay attention to these five elements you will be ahead of the game.

And to round it up, we got some insights from Thadeu Luz, CEO of Handtalk, and member of the WSA network.

"A startup is a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model,” said Thadeu.

The World Summit Award selects and promotes the world’s best e-Content and innovative information and communication technology applications. The award is partnered with the key United Nations organizations and agencies; to date more than 178 countries are actively involved. WSA is a global hub for everyone who values the crucial importance of local content to make today’s information society more inclusive.

Thadeu recently presented on the topic of pitching for start-ups at a WSA event in Sao Paolo and he shared five important truths that every start up founder should know.

  1. Start-ups are not small companies
  2. Customers can make or break a start-up
  3. Failure is part of the process
  4. If you are lost, run an experiment, they will point you the right way
  5. Passion is the true gift