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Startup Experts Share Tips on How to Make a Winning Business Presentation

What are the ingredients of a winning business presentation? Millions of dollars can be on the line, and even a great product or service might not get off the ground floor if you can’t get investors excited. To avoid this, we asked a pair of experts with experience in successful pitches and winning Timmy Awards for their tips on what makes a great presentation and how the Timmys awards have helped their business. Continue reading below to see advice from Courtney Whiteside, a Growth Consultant at Trajektory, and Carmen Bodziak, a Marketing Manager at GoodShuffle.

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  2. 1. When developing a pitch, what are the most important things that you need to convey to whoever you are talking to?

Courtney Whiteside: It depends on whether you're pitching a traditional investor, or if you have 30 seconds to convey your idea - either way, you should follow a similar story. Start with the problem you're trying to solve, followed by the solution (i.e. your company). From there you can decide on the order, but generally speaking, I follow these core points: why now is the right time, how our business model works, the addressable market, go-to-market strategy, competitive landscape, leadership team, and financials underpinning the business. If you're short on time, stick to the problem, the solution, and the addressable market as the top 3.

Carmen Bodziak: You need to convey that your business has a legitimate opportunity to thrive in the current and future market. You should explain how big your possible customer base is and what the LTV and CAC of this customer base are.

  1. 2. What is something that some people/companies are missing in their presentation that you think is important?

CW: I'll turn this question on its head a bit -- the biggest thing people and companies are missing is not making their presentation short enough. The average investor meeting has shifted from 60 minutes to 30 minutes in the wake of covid and has generally moved from in-person to Zoom. People often make the mistake that they pitch for nearly 20 minutes, but get interrupted with questions and don't finish the pitch, much less have any time for Q&A at the end. Your pitch has to be 10 minutes or less, or you just won't finish in time. It may seem impossible, but this also forces you to only talk about the things that are truly important to the business, and subsequently to the investor across the table. I promise. 

CB: When you’re in the early stages of a startup, you don’t have a track record with numbers that proves your success. As you speak to investors, you’re selling yourself, your team, and your vision. You need to emphasize how formidable you are. Additionally, you need to include your LTV and CAC calculations (and show how you got these numbers).

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  1. 3. Conversely, anything that people/companies add that you think is unimportant?

CW: Unless you just have a wildly unique business, anything outside of what I mentioned in the first question is likely unnecessary... 

CB: You shouldn’t add anything that doesn’t directly back up your vision. Anything that doesn’t directly translate to your business’s growth trajectory should be cut. Include your calculations to back up these data — cut the rest.

  1. 4. For those heading into the Pitch-off, what one piece of advice would you give them?

CW: Be confident in what you're pitching. Nothing is worse than someone pitching without conviction or passion. And have fun with it. It can be stressful, but how wild is it that you're pitching investors on the next potential unicorn idea or industry disruptor? Live in the moment and try to enjoy the adventure. 

CB: Be confident. Know your data, your plan, and your customer. Have the research and analysis ready to back up your points.

Learn More About Tech in Motion's Timmy Awards!

  1. 5. How has being a part of the Timmys impacted your business?

CW: It's given us the opportunity to point to others' beliefs in our company. We're certainly drinking our own kool-aid, but the ability to say we were voted on by our peers has given us some great credibility and a fun talk track when we talk to people about how disruptive our company will be.

CB: Having a Timmy Award as a “badge of honor” has been an exciting talking point as we rapidly ramp up hiring. When candidates hear that we’ve been voted Best Tech Startup in DC, as well as one of the Best DC Places to Work, they know that they’re chatting with a team that will provide them with a stimulating and fun company culture. Additionally, winning our Timmy awards has been a proud and rewarding moment for our current teammates.

  1. 6. What has been your favorite part of being part of the Timmys?

CW: It's been a great platform for us to share more about our company and what we're doing. Involving friends and family (anyone beyond or core clients) has been a way to get them excited about what we're building and a great opportunity to share more when we ordinarily probably wouldn't have. It's built a great sense of community and camaraderie we wouldn't have had otherwise.

CB: We’re so appreciative of the community behind Tech in Motion and the Timmys. It’s a wonderful organization of people who are striving to better themselves and their companies by coming together to compete and learn from each other.

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