Rebecca Imaizumi: 7 things that make a good pitch

I attended the finals for The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award at City Hall yesterday and here are some things that I learned from the pitches and the interaction between the contestants and the judges that you might find useful in preparing for a pitch in the future.

 

  1. Anticipate what questions the judges might ask.

Every contestant was asked “what would you do with the £20,000 prize money?” It’s important to know how that prize money is going to be used. The judges seemed to be more interested in ideas that have already been prototyped or tested, rather than purely theoretical. This was mainly prevalent in ideas that dealt with tech or science, where it has been established theoretically but hasn’t actually been accomplished. The judges seemed to be interested in ideas that could really use the prize money to proceed to the next step. For example, ideas that can use that prize money to start production or manufacturing because they have received wide support and interest, and in some cases pre-orders, rather than using the prize money for future research.

  1. Practice, practice, practice!

Not one contestant had a cheat sheet while they pitched. They memorised their lines and rehearsed it many times. As the saying goes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Sure enough, the winner of the tech category had a very strong pitch, very calm, very in control, I was very impressed by their pitch. On my way home, I forgot what his idea was until I gave it some thought, but I remembered being impressed and how memorable it was.

Impact is in how you deliver your pitch, more so than the words you use.

  1. Passion is contagious

Naturally, when someone is passionate about their idea it’s more interesting and exciting to listen to. When the “why” behind their idea comes to the forefront and the listeners make that connection, the pitch becomes much stronger, much more real and meaningful. Put your personal story of “why” with a good balance of other important facts about your idea and the pitch comes alive.

  1. Know your competitors

The judges always asked, “who else does what you do? How well are they doing it? If not, why hasn’t anyone else done it?” If you don’t know, then you haven’t done your research. On the other hand, the contestants that answered well also knew their idea very well. Knowing your competitors is also about knowing your own product/service inside and out.

  1. If your idea is complicated, do everything you can to simplify it

Some ideas included many technical jargon or concepts, which were hard for anyone who’s not in the field to understand what exactly it is they were trying to say. Try to break it down so that anyone who doesn’t have any knowledge or expertise in that field will understand.

  1. Be absolutely clear what problem you’re solving and how you’re going to solve it

Some contestants were very clear on what problem they were solving, but some weren’t as clear when it came to expressing how they solve that problem. Articulating the problem itself and how you solve it are equally important.

  1. Have fun and be confident!

The pitches that stood out were by contestants that exhibited confidence both in themselves and in their ideas. Practice your pitch in front of people and get as much feedback as you can before pitching. Practicing is the surest way to gain confidence in yourself and in your idea.

This was a learning experience for me as I had pitched as a semi-finalist in the prior week. I had a cheat sheet then, just in case I got nervous or lost my train of thought. But I realise now that the reason why I needed that cheat sheet is because I hadn’t practiced enough. Most people get nervous, that’s expected and it’s ok. But what makes a good pitch is a pitch that you’ve practiced so much that there’s no way you forget your lines, because it become second nature to you. It’s like singing along to your favourite song. You know it by heart and it’s not a matter of forgetting or not because you got this! The more you pitch, the more you understand your idea and where you want to go with it.

So, the next time you’re going to pitch, give yourself enough time to practice, rehearse, revise, practice, rehearse some more and then practice some more!


This article was brought to you by Rebecca Imaizumi, founder of The Unified Wolves, an experiential design agency that creates bespoke experiences through the performing arts. Follow us on Twitter/Instagram @TheUnifiedWolves, or visit us at www.TheUnifiedWolves.com for more content like this!

Photo credit: Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash

Today: 11 startups in Dragons’ Den + 1 startup in Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019

Our Dragons’ Den is today: our 11 startups are pitching to 4 judges and competing for a place in the Young Enterprise Start-up Final.

 

Stay tuned – winners will be announced by 8PM tonight!

Also good luck to our Rebecca Imaizumi who is today pitching her Unified Wolves in the Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019 semi-final!

Student Stories: Janja Popovic & AySwap

Our Janja Popovic  (MACE 2016-17) has been chosen as one of 10 female entrepreneurs for 2018 Mayor’s Entrepreneur Mentoring supported by Mayor of London as part of Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award 2018 competition and the Mayor’s gender equality campaign #BehindEveryGreatCity marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Mayor Of London Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 (Photographer Ben Broomfield)

Janja was also chosen to represent Kingston University at the University Alliance Enterprise Stars with her start-up Ayswap – the world’s first subscription coffee reusable cup packaging ecosystem offering the potential to cut waste by more than 300 million of coffee cups a year and help London eliminate plastic waste. University AllianceEnterprise Stars is celebrating the emerging business talent among students and is searching for the ‘enterprise stars of tomorrow’. Enterprise Stars will culminate in the opportunity to win investment from a panel of investors.

AySwap (Photo courtesy of Janja Popovic)

Ayswap was in March also shortlisted as one of top 10 Student Start-up of the Year 2018  among students and recent graduates from 200 colleges and universities across Britain. After pitching to a panel of expert judges in London, Janja was offered a year-long mentorship from Enterprise Nation in partnership with Enterprise Trust.

Finally, Launch 22 selected Ayswap as one of 8 start-ups for their 3-month London Incubator programme including co-working space and an opportunity to pitch to investors.

A couple of weeks into the incubator programme, I asked Janja to tell me about her experience at Launch 22:

“We are now two weeks into the Launch 22 incubator programme. The start of the programme took our businesses back to the early stages to help us then take our ideas to the next stage. It has helped me see new solutions and how to execute my ideas from a different angle.

I am very happy I applied and I am grateful that I was chosen as one among 8 as it is a great place to meet other entrepreneurs and see how they are coping with the same struggles as I have at such an early stage of the business journey.”

To be honest, I had mixed feeling about incubators as I did not have a clear idea of how things work but I now realise the process is very similar to the process we go through on our MACE course which pushes us into the mindset of un-learning to learn new things and to see our ideas from a different perspective instead of reverting to our routine thinking and problem-solving.”

We are very proud of Janja – she is a very driven young woman with an incredibly positive entrepreneurial spirit and we wish her all the best on her journey.

Find & follow Janja and her start-up on Twitter