SXSW (South By South West) is the music, film and interactive conference in Austin, TX where the cool kids congregate every year. It’s a happenin’ place with big people and big ideas. And they have this thing called The Accelerator, which is a chance to pitch your Big Idea to a bunch of in-the-know investment guys.
If you take the mic, you get to do a 2 minute pitch to introduce your play, then 10 minutes of Q & A. Believe you me, if you don’t have your ducks in order, you’ll be on the spit, charbroiled and plated in just 3 minutes. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of this kitchen!
So sitting here in the cheap seats, We’ve come up with a list of tips to help your pitch your idea whether at SX or on the street.
10 Tip to Pitching Your Big Idea
- K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Smartguy! 2 minutes isn’t much time so stick to the basics which means presenting: a. the Need or Problem, b. Your Solution (demo if possible), c. Your Business Model / Sales Strategy and, e. Your Management Team. Keep it short and simple. Leave the rest for them to pull during Q&A.
- Don’t be a techno-nerd. You may be fascinated with theory and nuts and/or bolts, but you gotta explain in simple english why the world needs your stuff. Tip: seek out the most whacked hippy person you know and get that person to state what’s cool about your play.
- Talk About What You Have, not about what you hope to have. You gotta have the goods. Anyone can have a big idea, but you need to define the business entitlement that shows you’re the person to do the deal. Creating a play that a competitor can eventually slap you upside the head on isn’t a very fundable play.
- Do a Demo. Especially for plays that are highly technical, demos work better than technical dissertations. Make it tangible.
- Define a Ramp Strategy. Big ideas are good, but investors will want to know how you’ll get the ball moving in your offensive drive toward success.
- Define How You’ll Make Money. Know your business model and validate that it’s worked for others before you.
- Create a Clear Marketing & Sales Strategy. Know how you’ll get the word out and what will keep patrons coming back. Be clear. Be clever.
- Don’t Get Argumentative. The VC guys have been around the block and specialize in having higher vision (after all, they look at thousands of plays every year). So you can’t fool their x-ray vision and you can can be sure that they’ll call you to the mat on stuff you haven’t worked out yet. Consider it a blessing that someone reveals a weakness to you because it’s what you don’t know that’ll slam you in the future. In their world, it’s OK to not know something, that’s what being a startup is about. But it’s definitely not cool to be in denial.
- Use Pictures. Slides are great to present and should be dominated by pics, not bullet points.
- Be Real. Don’t puff, don’t be elusive, don’t be showy. When it comes to startups, everyone in these rooms has x-ray vision, which means that they can see right through your underwear and into your core. So just be honest, humble and let your idea show through.