I went through Pitch Gauntlet. I run Pitch Practice. I’m working on a tech startup, so I’m constantly pitching the business to anyone who will listen.  Needless to say, I’m always working on a pitch, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.

There are 6 items that you must include in your 30-second pitch:

  1. Your name
  2. Your company’s name (if you have a name yet)
  3. What’s the problem you are solving?
  4. Who is your customer (the entity that pays, or will pay, you money)?
  5. How are you solving the problem for this customer?
  6. What do you need? (aka, your “ask”)

It’s not easy to get all this in 30 seconds or less. It’s not any easier to include these 8 items in your 5-6 minute pitch.

It takes practice. However, you can memorize all the keywords and catch phrases you want to, and spit them out in an actual elevator or lengthy investor meeting, but that won’t get you to the next level. But here’s the advice that will.

Are you ready for it? Because it’s not easy.  Here goes.

Be yourself.

Not what you wanted to hear? Too bad.  You have to be yourself. When you’re pitching a startup with no working product, no paying customers, and no revenue, guess what the investors are buying? You.  So deliver all the fancy memorized canned pitches you want, but don’t think one perfectly delivered 3-minute / 4 slide presentation is going to land you a sweet seed round.  You have to be so familiar and comfortable with your product, your space, your economics, your competitors, your process, and your future that it’s part of who you are and how you speak.

The goal of the pitch is to get to the next meeting, and you won’t have a script. You’ll have to rely on your ability to be yourself.

What do you think about that?

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