During the Startup Runway Showcase, we give our participants five minutes for their pitch, followed by a brief Q&A session. This may not seem like enough time, but if you craft your pitch around what investors want to know, your message will land in half the time. Often times, you may feel like you have to fit every aspect of your operations in order to give an accurate picture of what you have to offer. But when time is limited, and you must choose which parts of your business to include in your pitch, it’s critical that you choose wisely.
Your startup’s mission and vision should never be cut short or understated. Here are some key points that will help refine your messaging:
Team members are valuable, and it’s important that their expertise is acknowledged. You may have team members, partners, or collaborators with past experience or notable successes in a particular industry. Let investors know who you’re working with and what they bring to the table. Don’t forget to include yourself as well!
Perhaps the most important aspect of your pitch is the explanation of your business model. But this is often the most time consuming part of a pitch. The financial viability of your model can make or break your pitch, so don’t overstay your welcome by spewing irrelevant facts and figures. Focus on your pricing, costs, and how you’ll achieve (and maintain) profitability within a specific timeframe.
Problem & Solution
Whether you’re working in B2C or B2B, your service or product should provide a solution to a common problem faced by individuals in your industry. Describe the current issues and obstacles that validate the need for your business, but don’t spend too much time setting the scene. Customer validation is extremely important when pitching to investors. Make sure they immediately understand why solving this problem is worth the effort.
Even though having multiple competitors in your industry may seem like a challenge, it is actually an indirect validation of your market size and hyper-growth potential. Let investors know who else is working in your space, and explain why your product or service is better equipped to meet the customer’s needs. You don’t have to list every single competitor, but a brief overview of the key players in your industry will help differentiate you from the crowd.
Each of these topics is vital when time is limited. Make sure you leave enough time in your pitch to touch on all of them, without expanding or explaining anything in depth. The Q&A session is the perfect opportunity to address important aspects of your business and answer any lingering questions from your pitch. We also encourage all participants to practice their pitch out loud with a stopwatch to track the time.