Pitch at Palace
In November, I had the pleasure of being invited to Pitch@Palace. The entrepreneur competition, founded by HRH the Duke of York Prince Andrew, aims to support entrepreneurs by connecting them with potential supporters and investors. Founded in 2014, the competition has really gathered momentum and has spread to several other countries and continents, including Australia, China and UAE.
The theme for Pitch@Palace 8.0 was the Future of Mobility, Autonomous Systems and Materials and after whittling down applications, 12 of the entrants had three minutes to Pitch their ideas to the audience at St James Palace on 1st November.
The event was hugely inspiring and it was a pleasure to meet so many talented individuals. The winners on the night were Eat Me App, By Miles and Zap&Go, along with the People's Choice Award winner, Quit Genius.
Connecting entrepreneurial women with angel investors is also something we try to do as part of our Addidi Angels programme. As such, I have watched many business pitches from entrepreneurs over the years. How you pitch your business will of course vary depending on the format of the event, and ultimately what you’re hoping to achieve – be that to win a competition or attract investment.
Here is some general advice I would give to any entrepreneur pitching their business:
1. Being clear and concise when pitching is definitely the approach to take over a longwinded and verbose pitch. Potential investors need to be able to grasp your concept in a short time span. If they don’t, they may presume that customers won't understand it either. If they are able to understand your concept quickly and easily, they will begin to start to think about the business’ potential, and ultimately how they might be able to get a return. Honing your elevator pitch is essential – although be sure to include enough detail to excite and capture the attention of your audience. Bear in mind that depending on the format of the pitch, you might have a specified time to stick to anyway (be sure to research this and tailor your pitch accordingly).
2. Before any investor will be willing to part with their cash, they will want to see some evidence of the business in action. Having a ‘big idea’ is just the start – without proving that the business can actually work, very few investors will even entertain what you have to say. Before taking your business to pitch, you will need to find a way to create a track record, even if only on a very small scale. An investor will want to be able to see a clear scale up opportunity. Facts, figures and statistics are also key to winning over investors. Be clear on your finances and compile figures on projected turnover and profit. Be sure to know your numbers inside out – if you are asked any questions and it becomes apparent you don’t understand this aspect, you won’t be able to inspire the confidence required.
3. When looking to invest, business angels look as much at the individuals behind the business as they do at the business idea itself. They need to feel that the entrepreneurs involved have the drive and passion to make the business a success, and ultimately that they will be able to work with you. As such, you need to prepare yourself and the way you deliver your pitch as well as what you will actually say. Record yourself delivering your pitch and think about whether your passion and enthusiasm comes across. If you have business partners, consider who is the best at delivering the pitch, or whether different aspects might be best addressed by different people (eg. finance, marketing, the big idea).