In the summer of 2013, I was working on “deductmor”, a mobile app for self-employed individuals to capture all their receipts with their phone and insert those expenses into QB or whatever accounting package they used. I was considering raising some capital, but, having bootstrapped my first 4 startups, I had no idea how to raise money.
I was on a startup scholarship at ATV and mentoring entrepreneurs at ATDC when I learned about “Pitch Gauntlet”, a monthly meetup led by the then 4 principles at Venture Lab at GT. I went 3 months in a row, and got clobbered with wisdom every time, but it wasn’t enough practice for me to refine my pitch. I asked them if they would consider doing the meetup more often. They politely declined, so I went to the folks at ATV and asked if I could start a weekly meetup group to help me and other entrepreneurs practice our pitches.
On June 27th, 2013, the meetup now known as Pitch Practice was born as “Startup BP”, a baseball analogy for “taking batting practice.” Three weeks after that, we changed the name to Pitch Practice. Two years later, the Village named a conference room “The Pitch Practice Boardroom.”
Now, 3+ years later, Pitch Practice has experienced more than 1,300 startup pitches, after being born out of a desire to learn and also to pay it forward to other entrepreneurs who were about to go where I had just been.
Pitch Practice meets (just about) every Friday at 1pm at Atlanta Tech Village, and occasionally other locations, right after ATV’s weekly Startup Chowdown. We meet in the Pitch Practice Boardroom. The meetup is free and open. Anyone can attend. Anyone can pitch.
The image below provides a glimpse of how we structure the classic “elevator pitch”. Like I say in the meetup, this isn’t the gospel of pitch, and you’re not going to hell if you don’t follow it, but it works.
We start with the 30-second pitch (above), focusing on the problem, as explained in Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “Start with Why.” Then we build out to the 3-minute “contest” pitch and then the 5-6 minute investor pitch. Why? Because it’s much easier to start with nothing, build something small, then add to it, than it is to start with a 20 minute death-by-powerpoint presentation and ask, “what can we cut?” Cut it all and start with the problem you’re solving.
We’d love for you to join us any Friday! Every now and then, like on holidays, we’ll take the week off. Follow Pitch Practice on Twitter to be sure, and join us to pitch, learn, and network. Oh, and #practiceyourpitch!