Last month I, along with Tim Williamson, had the honor of hosting the second Barpreneur at SoBou restaurant. This event was a fun gathering of local entrepreneurs pitching to Tim and I. There are a number of things that I really like about the event (pic above is from the last one). I like that even if you aren’t pitching, or an entrepreneur the whole bar gets into it. You can see everybody listening, nodding and of course clapping as the treps deliver their pitches.
Another thing that I really enjoy about the event is the structure. Startups deliver a one minute pitch trying to get chosen in the top 3 so that they can come back and pitch for 3 minutes. After the second round one entrepreneur was selected to join Tim and I for lunch. What I like about the process is that it is identical to real life. As startups we often get so focused on our decks, our one-pagers or our website that we forget the cocktail party, dinner table, hallway introduction. These are places where the objective of the pitch is different and you have to earn permission to continue the dialogue.
Following the Barpreneur process, here are my thoughts on one approach for making that first cut.
One Minute Pitch
The objective here is actually not to tell us all about your company (surprise) you are pitching to earn 3 more minutes. There are two parts to this pitch the first is your infomercial. Capture your audience’s attention with a wow fact, a big win, a mind-blowing benefit of your startup. You want the audience leaning forward, curiosity piqued wondering, “how can they do that?” Stay away from operational details unless they build credibility that would win over non-believers but keep it brief. Only tell me that 4 out of 5 dentists prefer you don’t give me the details of the study. This part should leave your audience thinking, “I want to learn more about this amazing product.”
The second part is the passion. Let your audience know why this is your mission and why you are the right person to lead this charge. Personal stories that show your commitment and dedication are “pitch gold” here. However, make sure its authentic. Where as you can often use hyperbole, etc. to good effect in the first part don’t try it here. Audiences have little tolerance for overstating personal details. Keep it real and don’t be scared to open up a bit. Vulnerable can be very compelling. This part should leave your audience thinking, “I want help/work with/buy from this person.”
I am looking forward to the next event and maybe even having lunch with you.