Pitch Not So Perfect

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m excited to be participating in the Top Gun entrepreneurship acceleration program this winter. We had our official kick-off on January 4th. After some introductory remarks and housekeeping issues, we dove right into pitch practice.  Delivering an effective pitch is among the most important skills we’ll be learning in the next few months.  Three entrepreneurs are randomly chosen at each class to give a two minute pitch on their businesses.  I had the luck of being the first to go in the Bangor group. We had all given three minute pitches for Top Gun last September.  Following Babson College’s Rocket Pitch format, we covered the basics: the problem, the solution and the “ask”.  This approach forces you to concisely frame the problem you are solving (a.k.a. the customer’s pain), your solution and what you want (funding, team members, expertise?). This can be harder than it sounds especially with a medical device.  I put in some significant time practicing for that pitch and the resulting presentation went well.  My performance on the 4th was a different story.

Looking back, I focused on defining the problem adequately but failed to highlight the benefit of my product compared to the competition.  Worst of all, I never got to the ask.  A pitch for a start-up should be an encapsulated business plan and mini-sales presentation in one.  At the end, you ask for what you want. I failed to budget enough time to get to my ask.  The lesson for me is that I should have my three minute pitch down so well that I can adjust the length as needed. Remembering the roots of these so-called “elevator” pitches, I should have a 30 second version ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Come to think of it, the last elevator ride I took was definitely less than three minutes.