How to pitch your startup

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI


In this informative session, the host provides invaluable pitch feedback to two founders, Steve and Michael. Steve seeks to revolutionize the film and TV industry networking with his startup, Roster, aiming to create a verticalized LinkedIn for production talent. The host advises Steve to refine his pitch, focusing on his unique qualifications and distribution strategy. Michael introduces Spot, a social media platform for travelers, but receives guidance to better define his target audience and problem statement for clarity. The host emphasizes the importance of genuine storytelling and addressing potential investor objections in pitches, while cautioning against over-inflating team experience. The session concludes with a rapid-fire Q&A, reinforcing the need for authenticity and precision in investor pitches.

Summary Notes

Key Theme: Pitch Feedback Session

  • The podcast host is providing feedback on startup pitches.
  • The focus is on giving founders two perspectives: one from investors and one on the pitch itself.
  • The host emphasizes the importance of clarity and brevity in pitches.

"Today we're going to do pitch feedback. This is some of the most impactful experiences that I've been able to provide many founders—countless founders. They give me their pitch, and I give them two different perspectives: one perspective is from investors and like what they would say and the questions they would ask and the impression they would get. And then I go deep into giving feedback on the pitch itself."

  • The quote explains the purpose of the session, which is to provide founders with valuable feedback on their startup pitches from both an investor's perspective and a critique of the pitch presentation.

Key Theme: Startup Pitch Presentation

  • The startup being pitched is called Roster.
  • Roster aims to be a professional network marketplace for the film, TV, and commercial entertainment industry.
  • The founder highlights the potential expansion to live events.

"So my startup is Roster. For a second, picture the last time you watched a movie. The movie's over, the credits are rolling, and you know there's just hundreds of names scrolling by. Right, you're at this point you're looking for the next thing on Netflix. Those names, that's what Roster is all about."

  • This quote introduces the startup and sets the scene for the problem Roster is trying to solve, which is the lack of a professional network for the individuals listed in movie credits.

Key Theme: Roster's Value Proposition and Market Potential

  • Roster plans to leverage a legacy document called a call sheet to build a professional network.
  • The founder sees value in connecting production sides of the marketplace.
  • The founder compares the current state of the industry to other industries that have advanced with technology.

"Roster is aiming to be a network marketplace, a professional networking space for folks in the film, TV, and commercial entertainment space. And we're going to leverage a legacy document in this industry called a call sheet that every single production you've ever seen has used."

  • The founder describes Roster's core function and how it plans to use existing industry tools to create a new professional network.

Key Theme: Feedback on Pitch Delivery

  • The host criticizes the pitch for being too long and lacking focus.
  • The host suggests emphasizing the emotional resonance of the problem Roster is solving.
  • The host advises the founder to clarify the pitch by focusing on the unique value proposition and the problem being addressed.

"You started out real strong, but then you rambled so long, and you repeated yourself and all this stuff. But I captured certain things that were valuable there."

  • This feedback points out the need for the pitch to be concise and avoid repetition, highlighting only the valuable aspects of the startup.

Key Theme: Investor Perspective Questions

  • The host would ask why the founder is the right person to build this platform.
  • The host is interested in the founder's strategy for distribution in an industry unfamiliar to many.

"The kind of question I would ask if I was an investor, and I heard this pitch first of all got into a little bit, was why you? Why are you the right person to build this, and why are you the right team?"

  • The quote emphasizes the importance of the founder's background and qualifications as key factors an investor would consider.

Key Theme: Clarifying the Pitch

  • The host provides a clear and crisp version of what the pitch could be.
  • The host suggests the pitch should focus on the aggregation of industry professionals and the founder's unique qualifications and distribution strategy.

"To me, this is an aggregation play of bringing a bunch of humans that do a job together in what you would call a verticalized LinkedIn in the entertainment industry for all the people who are actually getting that production done. Dude, that's a clear crisp pitch."

  • The host reiterates the startup's value proposition in a more concise manner, suggesting it as a model for a successful pitch.

Key Theme: Founder's Qualifications and Experience

  • The founder has experience in the events marketplace and product design.
  • The founder has worked on a startup for entertainment payroll and understands the crossover between live events and the film, TV, and commercial industries.

"Since Lend, I went on to ServiceNow. And then I went to RBook. RBook is the startup for entertainment payroll. They raised 27 million from Andreessen Horowitz and then 100 million from Tiger Global. I was their third product team hire and really got to see the crossovers between live events and film, TV, commercial and really empathize with the space. I'm a product designer at heart."

  • This quote outlines the founder's relevant background and experience, which supports why they are well-positioned to build Roster.

Key Theme: Investment and Trust Building

  • Discusses strategies for gaining investor trust through existing relationships.
  • Emphasizes the significance of co-founders from a previous company investing in a new venture.
  • Highlights the importance of showing that industry insiders believe in the entrepreneur's new project.

"Are any of them investing?... If you can lead with 'I work there, it's in the same industry, and they're going to invest in us,' that's a huge trust point that you need if you can get it..."

  • This quote emphasizes the value of having former colleagues or co-founders invest in a new venture as a sign of trust and validation to potential new investors.

"Go get their money; that's the first money I'd go get for this."

  • Suggests that the entrepreneur should prioritize securing investment from their previous co-founders as a strategic move to build credibility.

"Whenever you have a situation like that where you're going to work in the same industry and you're not competing with the company you were at, it is so much validation for investors to know that those founders of the company you were just at believe in you so much that they're willing to invest in you."

  • The quote points out that non-competitive ventures within the same industry that attract investment from previous associates provide a strong endorsement to new investors.

Key Theme: Productizing Experience in the Entertainment Industry

  • Discusses the concept of creating a vertical LinkedIn for a specific sector of the entertainment industry.
  • Identifies the lack of a centralized place for industry professionals to connect and showcase their work.
  • Steve's business idea is seen as a rare and clear opportunity due to his understanding of the industry problem and his experience.

"Steve's pitch and his business is one of my favorite types because he's taking something old style and obviously lots of money and lots of activity and essentially productizing the whole experience."

  • This quote introduces Steve's business concept, which involves modernizing and monetizing an existing industry practice through a specialized platform.

"If these people don't have a place to go discover other people that can help or kind of meet each other in different ways or even like see people's constructed resume that's relevant for this... it feels like a no-brainer of an opportunity."

  • The quote highlights the gap in the market for a networking platform tailored to the entertainment industry's production side, suggesting a significant opportunity.

Key Theme: Pitching a New Social Media Platform

  • Introduces 'Spot,' a social media platform that integrates features from Instagram, Google Maps, and TripAdvisor.
  • Spot aims to capitalize on a large market of social media users and the influence on millennials and Gen Z's decision-making.
  • The platform has made progress with a prototype, early access registrations, and an upcoming presentation at a major tech event.
  • Spot differentiates itself by focusing on user-generated content and offering subscription-based analytics to businesses without demographic pressure.

"Spot is tapping into an enormous market... we've developed a prototype, secured 500 Early Access registrations, and been offered a spot to present at Web Summit."

  • The quote outlines the early achievements and potential market reach of the social media platform 'Spot.'

"Spot thrives on user-generated content... we're empowering you to show off your favorite spots... and if you're in need of inspiration, we'll help you discover new spots based on your interests."

  • This quote explains the core functionality of 'Spot,' emphasizing user engagement and content sharing for discovering and showcasing places.

"Unlike competitors, we don't burden businesses with demographic expectations when it comes to advertising; instead, we provide verified insights enabling targeted advertising to help local businesses tell their story."

  • The quote details Spot's unique approach to business advertising, offering insights over demographic targeting to aid businesses in marketing effectively.

Key Theme: Clarifying Business Concepts in Pitches

  • Discusses the confusion that can arise when using other companies to describe a new service.
  • Advises against the common pitch strategy of "we're X for Y" due to potential misunderstandings.
  • The importance of starting with a clear explanation of what the business is and who it's for is emphasized.

"I would actually be pretty confused about what you're doing... you should very rarely say we're X for Y... but you kind of did that because you're like Trip Advisor and something else and something else, and I already got lost right there."

  • This quote reflects the confusion that can occur when a pitch compares a new business to multiple existing businesses, suggesting a need for clearer communication.

"In your case, like I would start with what you are and who you're for... because I still don't get it."

  • The quote advises the entrepreneur to clarify the essence and target audience of their business to better communicate its value proposition.

Identification of Target Market

  • The conversation revolves around defining a specific target market for a product.
  • It emphasizes the importance of targeting a particular demographic rather than a broad, undefined audience.
  • The product discussed is meant for a specific segment of people based in London.
  • The target market is identified as 25 to 35-year-olds on a 2 to 3-year Visa in London, looking to maximize their experiences.

"Our target market is 25 to 35-year-olds based in London who are here on a 2 to 3-year Visa."

  • This quote identifies the specific demographic that the product is designed for, including age range, location, and visa status.

Problem Definition and Solution

  • The necessity of defining a problem that the product solves is discussed.
  • The speaker suggests that merely combining features is not compelling enough without a clear problem definition.
  • The product aims to simplify the discovery of places and activities by combining functionalities that are currently spread across multiple platforms.
  • The problem is the difficulty of discovering new places and experiences efficiently when in a new environment.

"The problem is that we have a hard time discovering places and we're going in between tools and social media platforms just to figure out where to go that we will like and enjoy and it's kind of a mess."

  • This quote articulates the core problem that the product is designed to address, which is the cumbersome process of using multiple tools and platforms to discover places of interest.

Market Gap and Investor Understanding

  • The speaker stresses the importance of conveying a clear market gap to potential investors.
  • The conversation highlights the need for the entrepreneur to communicate who the product is for and the specific gap it fills.
  • The entrepreneur is advised to be concise and clear in their pitch to ensure investors understand the value proposition.

"What matters is you found a gap in the market and I as an investor need to understand what that Gap is you found and who is perfect that you can fill the gap for."

  • This quote emphasizes the importance of identifying and clearly communicating the market gap to investors, which is critical for them to see the potential in the product.

Pitch Clarity and Investor Concerns

  • The speaker recommends that the pitch should clearly define the problem and who experiences it.
  • It is important to confirm that the problem is not unique to the founders but is shared by others.
  • The pitch should include evidence of traction or validation to address investor concerns about the problem's prevalence and the solution's viability.

"One of the fears of investors when you say I have the problem is they're wondering if other people have the problem."

  • This quote reflects investor concerns about whether a problem identified by the founders is widely experienced by others, which is crucial for the product's success.

Product Pitch and Traction

  • The entrepreneur is advised to describe the problem, validate it with others, and then present the traction of the solution.
  • A strong pitch communicates the founders' personal experience with the problem, how they validated it, and the current success of their solution.
  • Traction serves as evidence that the product is addressing a genuine need in the market.

"And this is our traction so far and that's why I said we needed to make sure other people have the problem because one of the fears of investors when you say I have the problem is they're wondering if other people have the problem."

  • This quote suggests that demonstrating traction is key in a pitch to show that the problem is not unique to the founders and that the solution is gaining momentum in the market.

New Social Media Platform Concept

  • The product is conceptualized as a new social media platform tailored for a specific type of traveler.
  • The platform is designed to streamline the process of discovering new places and activities for people living temporarily in a foreign country.
  • The conversation concludes with an acknowledgment of the assistance provided and a transition to a rapid-fire question session.

"Ultimately you're building a new social media platform for a certain type of traveler."

  • This quote summarizes the product's concept as a new social media platform aimed at enhancing the travel experience for a particular group of people.

Importance of Storytelling in Pitching

  • Storytelling is crucial in pitches; it should be genuine and passionate.
  • The story should be about the founder's journey and motivations.
  • Good storytelling can convince investors of the founder's future plans.

"Great pitches have great storytelling that is an honest accurate story about you."

  • This quote emphasizes the importance of authenticity and personal connection in storytelling during pitches.

"The best pitches have genuine storytelling from the founder about what they're doing, why they're doing it, how they're doing it all the details of it."

  • Genuine storytelling involves sharing the founder's journey and the reasons behind their business, which is key to a successful pitch.

Common Mistakes in Pitching

  • Founders often make the mistake of tailoring their story to what they think investors want to hear.
  • It's important to address potential objections from investors rather than trying to perfect the story.
  • Investors are looking for reasons to say no; a pitch should aim to counteract those reasons.

"One of the most common mistakes I see when people pitch investors is that they try to tell a story that they think the investor wants to hear."

  • This quote highlights the error of creating a story based on perceived investor preferences rather than focusing on authenticity.

"You should focus on understanding what objections an investor might have about you, your team, your business, your market and use that to talk about anything you want to talk about."

  • Addressing potential investor objections directly in the pitch is more effective than trying to present a perfect story.

Eye-Rolling Moments for Investors

  • Investors are unimpressed by fluff or exaggerated claims in pitches.
  • Claims of combined team experience are often seen as misleading.
  • The focus should be on what the team has done and can show evidence for, not the duration of experience.

"The thing that makes me roll my eyes the most is when people are adding all this fluff to their story and their pitch."

  • Excessive or irrelevant information in a pitch, known as "fluff," is unappealing to investors and detracts from the core message.

"It doesn't matter how long you've done it; it matters how good you are at it."

  • The quote stresses the importance of skill and evidence of success over the length of experience in a pitch.

Essentials of a Good Pitch

  • A pitch should answer key questions about what the founder is doing, their qualifications, and their future plans.
  • Sticking to the facts and relevant stories is more impactful than discussing past experiences unrelated to the current business.
  • Humorous anecdotes, like how co-founders met, can be included if they are relevant and add value to the pitch.

"It's only a set of a few questions that you're looking to answer when you're pitching someone."

  • The quote suggests that a pitch should be concise and focused on answering specific, relevant questions.

"If you stick to the facts and your story, that's way more impactful than talking too much about your past."

  • This quote advises founders to focus on the present context and future plans rather than dwelling on unrelated past experiences during their pitch.

Final Remarks and Call to Action

  • The session provided feedback on pitching, with a potential follow-up for later-stage founders.
  • The host encourages feedback and subscription to the podcast.
  • The podcast is produced by Super Mix and invites listeners to apply for the next session.

(Note: Advertisements and promotional content have been excluded as per the instructions.)

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