This post was written by Charlene Chiu, an intern and alum of The Spike Lab. It is a thought piece based on the carefully crafted curriculum by our top coaches.
So you’ve got a great idea for a startup, Spike project, or any type of entrepreneurial endeavor. You’ve empathy interviewed, talked to potential users and you’re now prototyping. So where should you start? One of the first steps to prototyping is crafting a pitch.
But, what is a pitch supposed to do? A pitch is how you persuade your audience that your solution is the solution to their problem. At its starting point, a pitch can serve as a low-stakes prototype that allows you to quickly get feedback. After you refine your idea, it’s important to pitch it to find customers and, eventually, attract investors.
Before you start crafting your pitch, summarise your idea in a few sentences and identify your audience. At this first moment, your audience should be someone easily accessible to you, most likely a family member or a friend. Think about why they should care about your idea and remember that your audience is not always a potential user, they could be an investor or someone you want to work with. A basic framework we like to use is “problem, pathway, hero” (in this specific order!):
Problem: What problem have you noticed? What pain point(s) does your audience face?
Pathway: What’s the best way out of the mess?
Hero: Why are you the right person for the challenge?
Obviously, there are many other ways to structure your pitch, but we find that “problem, pathway, hero” works for most entrepreneurial ideas and reminds you of all the necessary parts to a pitch. It’s also important to note that this structure does not require you to have a solution yet as it is something you can refine as your prototype.
While crafting your pitch, keep in mind that your pitch should be short and concise. Don’t waste your audience’s time. Be persuasive, passionate, and compelling. Make your audience care about what you have to say before you continue with the problem. Explain your idea with all the essential details and be ambitious, but not overly ambitious. If you can, use numbers and data sparingly. Plan how you will present your pitch, when you’ll intonate and when you’ll use hand gestures.
Now that you’ve crafted your pitch, practice it. One of the key elements of pitching is being confident and enthusiastic. And, you know what they say: practice makes perfect. Practice in front of your friends and family and ask for their feedback! Even if they aren’t your target audience, they can help you identify what works and what doesn’t. If you’re feeling brave, you can even pitch your idea to random strangers and see what they say!
Last but not least, remember that a large part of pitching is being likable. For all we preach about not judging a book by its cover, first impressions are exceedingly important when you’re about to pitch your idea. While there’s no exact time frame for how long it takes for first impressions to form (some believe it’s seven seconds and others believe it’s 1/10 of a second!), it’s evident that you don’t have long to make a first impression. Be well-prepared, confident, and passionate.
Having trouble crafting your pitch? Click here for Guided Examples, the second article in this two-part series using examples that have been inspired by our students’ brilliant Spike projects.