Many of Chicago’s startups gathered this week at Technori Pitch
, a monthly event in which they showcase and pitch their latest technologies before an audience of entrepreneurs, executives, and enthusiasts.
Here’s the catch: Startups only get five minutes to demonstrate their product.
It’s sort of like speed dating for young companies.
How do you create an effective pitch and catch the attention of potential sponsors in just five minutes? Here’s how these entrepreneurs did it—and how you can, too.
Start with a bold statement.
, the co-founder of MineFul
, a customer retention and analysis tool for online retailers and mobile apps, began his presentation with an odd claim: “Statistically speaking, most of you are not going to be interested in this talk.”
Now that’s a bold statement—one that could turn an audience against a speaker. But Brugueras quickly elaborated, saying that although his talk centered on statistics and marketing—and not on puppies and sex—the audience needs to understand that grasping math is integral to any business’s success.
With one brave opening line, Brugueras elicited a chorus of laughs, and (most importantly) the valuable attention of the audience.
Pique their interest with sex and … puppies.
Statistically speaking, audiences love sex and puppies. Did that get your attention? Too bad there’s no scientific data (that I know of) to support such a claim. Still, Harry Gottlieb, the founder of Jellyvision
, creator of the popular game “You Don’t Know Jack,” grabbed the audience’s attention when he offered an eye-catching presentation that included flashes of scenes of puppies and sex (separately, of course), underscoring the notion that its images like these that reel in audiences.
Understand why your product or service is necessary.
If someone asks why your company exists (or why your story is important), have an answer—a good one—at the ready. If you fail at this point, you might as well pack it in. One startup (whose name I won’t mention) responded with confusion and arrogance when asked what problem the company solves. Meanwhile, Tyler Spaulding, the founder of Styleseek.com
, which aims to make shopping hassle-free for men, was ready with an answer when moderators asked him the same question.
Don’t forget the call to action.
Often, a presenter will fail to tell the audiences the intent of the speech: Why
is he or she speaking to you and what does he or she want you to do?
Whether you’re a startup or a PR professional pitching a reporter, forgetting the call to action can be detrimental. Brugueras certainly understands this. The CEO of MineFul—the guy who said statistics aren’t sexy—concluded his talk by telling the audience: “Of the 61 percent here who are starting a business and want mobile app services, email me.” Not bad.
Inspire the audience.
Giving audiences a jolt of inspiration in five minutes or less is no easy feat, yet that’s exactly what Jeff Scheur
, the founder and CEO of NoRedInk
, managed to do. And it makes sense. His startup is trying to do the improbable—inspire children to take an interest in grammar.
Scheur spoke openly and warmly about the importance of improving grammar in Chicago school systems and beyond. He ended by saying: “Empower kids. They want to learn, they want to get better.” The hashtag for the event, #Technori
, was aflutter with approval.
Brag a bit.
Tout your accomplishments, but make sure you’re not arrogant.
StyleSeek.com mentioned that the company has partnered with Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. NoRedInk shared that it has 11,500 users and works with 2,600 schools, and that the company was featured in a front-page article on MSN and Mashable.
Show a little swagger—just don’t get carried away.
Samantha Hosenkamp is the social media director for PR Daily.