If you want your start-up to fly - cocoon yourself and perfect your pitch.
Following Wayra’s recent global-call for entrepreneurs we are currently in a period of pitching and selection. I’ve just returned from Munich where our esteemed Judges selected three new brilliant Projects.
Business accelerators and incubators take great care in selecting the start-ups they choose to work with.
Invariably, the selection process is ultimately determined by the quality of ‘the pitch’ delivered by the entrepreneurs.
And so, entrepreneurs pitch in order to get in to an accelerator - interestingly few entrepreneurs realise that when it’s their time to leave the accelerator, they’ll be pitching on their way out too - because most teams will need follow-on funding, and pitching is perceived to be the route to get it.
Inherently pitching is seen as fundamental to the survival of the fledgling business. Perhaps this is why most accelerators spend so much time on pitch training, preparation and practice.
I absolutely appreciate the importance of funding from the start-ups’ perspective. However I believe that currently in the entrepreneurial eco-system there is so much emphasis on raising funding that the true benefits of mastering ‘the perfect pitch’ are in danger of being lost - benefits that are not to be underestimated:
- The pitch is a momentous acid test for the entrepreneur. It drives out the definition of exactly what their business is (which for many is frustratingly elusive). What they stand for and what their point of differentiation is.
- Pitch perfection forces the start-up to articulate their business proposition in a clear, concise and compelling way. Getting to this point of distillation is often the most intensely challenging thing entrepreneurs undertake.
- I have witnessed start-ups move more in three days intensive pitch preparation than they did in the three months previously. Which is not to say that the previous three months were wasted - it’s often the pitch preparation that forces out the yield from all the prior work.
- The pitch is a catalyst through which the start-ups forthcoming priorities become crystal clear. And so it’s common to see start-ups accelerate as though they are on rocket-fuel in the months immediately post-pitch.
So, intensive pitch preparation can:
- Define the business
- Consolidate the effort invested thus far
- Provide a clear focus of the priorities ahead
… and that’s why I believe pitch preparation is vitally important. Unfortunately, for the entrepreneur these benefits sometimes demand the potential jeopardy inherent in pitching in order to drive out this result. It’s human nature.
The benefits are often of greater value than the funding that is more commonly associated with ‘pitching’. I recognise that without the funding perhaps the business wouldn’t exist - however we often hear feedback from investors that they are suffering from ‘pitch-fatigue’, which is why at Wayra we have many approaches to investor engagement.
Depending on the commitment of the entrepreneur, pitch preparation is the most powerful force of positive acceleration that a start-up can experience. It is the cocoon moment from which their business is set to fly.
At Wayra, we take great pride in the pitching ability of the teams that we accelerate. For us, it is massively important that when the start-ups leave Wayra, that they do so able to deliver a world-class pitch. I think we are good at delivering this.
Pitching, and the preparation necessary to do it well, are arguably an accelerator’s most important legacy.
And yet, despite this, I passionately believe pitch training is not the most important lesson that accelerators deliver - and I’ll post a blog about that soon.
I previously wrote about what makes a perfect pitch (4th Feb 2012) click here. And if you are soon to deliver your pitch - you have my very best wishes.
Happy New Year. What are your New Year resolutions for you and your business?
Today is New Year’s Eve - people tend to love or hate it. Either way, it is a natural time to reflect; review; adjust; and plan.
From my vantage point at Wayra I am lucky to work with the amazingly talented entrepreneurs in the Wayra Academies. What sets them apart is their tendency to impressively ‘get-on-with-it” rather than just being good at talking about it.
If you possess a passion for business, it does not matter what stage you are at - if you want the next year to be a spectacular one for your venture, the most important thing is to stop talking about it and start doing.
Which is why my friend’s book is so important (and why it’s a best seller): Stop Talking Start Doing by the wonderful Shaa Wasmund and Richard Newton.
Shaa and I share a passion for entrepreneurial success. We share a purpose to be helpful, especially for those trying to start and/or grow a business.
I think Shaa’s latest book is particularly helpful. I think it is incredibly easy for people to spectate the endeavours of entrepreneurs and offer advice. But I think it is incredibly difficult if you are an entrepreneur and you find yourself stuck. Books like this can be especially good at identifying the common obstacles that annoyingly get in the way of entrepreneurial success. They can also be a helpful source of inspiration for the elimination of such obstacles.
But being stuck is a bit like any vice, first you have to recognise and acknowledge that there’s a problem - then you can do something about it.
If you are in the fortunate position of not having such a barrier to overcome, then what exactly are you waiting for? Tomorrow is the start of a whole New Year. Go on, get on with it.
And if you really want to accelerate your digital start-up, Wayra will potentially give you an investment of €40,000, free office accommodation, coaching and mentoring. Wayra’s call for applications is currently open in Barcelona, Bogotá, Bratislava, Buenos Aires, Dublín, London, Madrid, Munich, Prague, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile. But hurry, the closing date for applications is 21 January 2013.