Pitch Practice Startups

“Pitching is an acquired skill…you have to practice!” – Guy Kawasaki

If you follow Pitch Practice on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, you’ve seen some of the quotations we’ve been using to promote the new book, “Practice Your Pitch.” These one-liners are not only inspirational, but very instrumental in how I explained the Pitch Practice method. From Guy Kawasaki (quoted in the title) to the VC firm FirstRound, there are so many people who are so much more experienced (and obviously smarter) than me who have influenced both the Pitch Practice meetup and the book. Here are two more articles in Forbes that match up perfectly with what we do every Friday.

Lead with the Problem

In this first article, Ryan Foland hits us hard with “you’re doing it wrong!” He’s right. Most people pitch themselves. Each week in Pitch Practice, I remind attendees that when you pitch yourself, you’re standing up there beating your chest screaming “ME! ME! ME!” The audience – one or 1,000 – doesn’t care about you. They care about whether or not you (a) understand their problem and (b) can solve their problem.

That’s why Foland says we should lead with the problem. In a startup, “the problem” is why you exist. You created your startup to solve the problem. It’s your why, and great communicators Start with Why. “When you lead with the problem, you identify people who are interested”, says Foland. He goes on to describe how to start crafting your pitch.

Write three sentences around your idea:

  • One sentence for the problem
  • One sentence to describe your solution
  • One sentence to explain your market

Sound familiar? Well, if you’ve not been to Pitch Practice or read the book or any of these blog posts, no, it might not. 😉 The only difference we push in Pitch Practice is that we call your “market” your “customer“, because in dealing with startups, you must know who your individual customers are and you have to start with one customer. Then we teach entrepreneurs to always ask for something. Always. You don’t ask, you don’t get, and someday you’ll have to ask for money from a customer or an investor. You had better be confident when you ask.

The Best Way to Get Confident

In article number two, referenced in the first article, Josh Muccio, the founder of The Pitch (SharkTank in a podcast) says, “The best way to get confident is to practice your elevator pitch”. Even better, he goes on to say, “You’ll get even more confident as you actually pitch to real people.” What a great idea! Come to Pitch Practice. We’re real people. 🙂

But wait, there’s more. Josh continues with his 4th point about your pitch: “Features belong in your product, not your pitch. It all comes back to people and their problems.” Brilliantly stated, and we completely agree. In your elevator pitch, you should say what your solution is, e.g., SaaS, a device, a community, a mobile app, etc. But you don’t get into the weeds of all your features.

Josh says it better than I can: “Features are merely tools that allow people to do something faster, better, cheaper.” Features are not the solution. They just make it better.

What do you think about that?

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