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The Three Minute Pitch

Written by Neil on October 23, 2015

3 min pitch

Unless you live on Mars, there comes a time when you have to sell your idea, product or startup to clients or investors. Many of you might have a big pitch coming up, and you really want to nail it! You have an awesome product and have a short amount of time to get everything right.

When you walk in a room or make a Skype call, you have to get their attention, communicate what you have, explain the value of your proposition and then you will have to tactfully ask them for money. This is hard work!


Enter Mr Wonderful

Kevin O’leary AKA Mr Wonderful from Shark Tank, an individual who has sat through thousands of pitches, has a rule he follows with regards to pitches. His advice is this:

If they can’t explain it in 1 sentence, don’t buy it.


The Breaking Bad Pitch

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally pitched his idea to the studio with one line. He told the studio  “This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr Chips into Scarface.” This line clinched the deal, and the show went on to be a worldwide smash hit, winning many awards along the way.

If you can’t capture the attention of someone holding the money, then you can forget about buying an island off the South Pacific or flying first class around the world!  You will immediately make a bad impression, and the person will stop paying attention to you.

My Pitch

Some time ago, I pitched my big idea in front of several investors. I remember the day very clearly. I woke up feeling incredibly excited as though it was Christmas; I had waited a long time for this day to come, because I spent practically all my time designing and building this app.

However, once I began my pitch, everything went downhill. After two minutes of talking, it became abundantly clear they were not interested. I became frustrated. I noticed a few slices of cake on their table, and in response to their lack of interest, I walked over and grabbed the cake, shoved it down my throat, told them my app would sell like hot cakes and ran out of the room and down the stairs.What went wrong?

They probably heard this pitch already!

Put yourself in the shoes of the investor. Investors probably listen to one hundred pitches a day, and chances are, they have already heard your pitch before. They already know what you are going to say. They know how big the market is and probably know more about your market than you do! Think of it as listening to a song you’ve listened to twenty times in a row! You tend to zone out, the words blur together and the song becomes white noise!


Too many facts and figures

Facts and figures are undoubtedly important, but having too many could make your pitch a bit boring. Investors can and will check your facts and figures in under 60 seconds using their smartphone. If you get anything wrong, they will call you out on it. Gone are the days when you could simply make everything up!

Try storytelling

Instead of relying on facts and figures, use storytelling, because believe it or not, investors are emotional. They are just like you and me. People often think of them as analytically minded individuals who only think of business and profit, but that isn’t always the case. Research conducted over many years has shown that the brain responds well to stories.

Stories provide a pleasant change from the typical 9-5 daily grind of board meetings, emails and PowerPoint presentations. Learning information through stories engages our imagination.

Tips to improve your pitch.

Try to include the following 3 components in your pitch.

  1. The Rundown: Quickly explain why your startup is exciting in one simple sentence.
  2. The Problem: What “really challenging problem” are you trying to solve? You have got to be careful in this area. If the idea/product you pitch seems too basic then investors will assume there are plenty of other companies who would also take on this project, so they are less likely to ‘show you the money!’ This step is important.
  3. The Solution:  Come up with a statement that explains what you do, who it’s for, how you are going to make money, who makes up your team and what the benefits are.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s pitching, selling or the challenge of closing a big sale, you need to have an awesome pitch.Do you actually have a 3-minute pitch? If you don’t, then don’t be surprised if investors start glancing at their phones, checking their emails and zoning out as you show them your 54th slide.

If you can prepare 3 simple statements in advance, then you will be more confident in asking for investment. Of course, you could go in unprepared and make it up on the spot, but then this could happen!

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