Hackernoon logoMy First Pitch to Investor: From Outsourcing to Product by@sergii.alekseev

My First Pitch to Investor: From Outsourcing to Product

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@sergii.alekseevSergii Alekseev

CEO at WellSpeak.io an app with speech recognition that allows practicing English speaking skills

Hi community! My name is Sergii, I'm a CEO at WellSpeak from Kyiv Ukraine. We build a mobile app for practicing English speaking skills.
When we decided to start our startup at the end of August 2019 we didn’t even know the word “pitch deck”. But on October 8th we took 3d place at 168 Startup Battle Kyiv where were 9 other projects.
In this step-by-step guide you will find:
  • A memo of the good pitch we've made for ourselves
  • What to do before, during and after the pitch
  • An example of our pitch deck with tips for each slide
  • Manually collected materials on how to conduct a market assessment
  • Video how to prepare a pitch & pitch deck templates of Airbnb, Tinder etc
  • Video of Ukrainian startups pitches with comments by pitch coach David Beckett

Who and why needs a “Pitch Deck”?

Conducting a presentation in front of investors is the event! It is not just a regular meeting, where you show slides and explain the idea or logic of something. The goal of the pitch is to get investors’ attention, convince them, that you are the right person, with a good product and mature team which can handle any problem on the way and brings investors money. 
Before you can pitch your product somewhere (for example Web Summit), your team must apply to the event, where a jury will review the application and make a decision are you good enough to present your product or not. If you are lucky, you gonna have 3 minutes to prove you are the one!  

Advice

  1. Pitch Deck - it is a presentation with 9 to 11 slides that help you sale your product, while you are talking on the stage. 
  2. Pitch duration - generally it takes no longer 3 minutes. But it’s possible to have a pitch for up to 5 minutes (depends on the event rules). On the local, small events jury might be strict to timing, but when it’s worldwide, then you have to be accurate. We had trained our pitch two days in a row before 168 Startup Battle Kyiv happened. 
  3. Pitch in English - if you live in not English speaking country as we do. If you build a product, for a global or US market and cannot explain in English what do you do, then no one believes you can achieve it.  
  4. Record your pitch - once you have a video where you pitch your product, you can use it in emails for potential investors. You have to create activities around your brand. 
  5. Imagine your pitch - if you have a chance to stand on the stage before you will be pitching, do it. It will bring you more confidence.
  6. Talk to the jury - maybe you will find someone who you know.

WellSpeak Pitch Deck example

1. The first slide - try to help other people understand what the product about. Put there the name of the product and short description. On the first screen, we decided to tell people what we believe and why we started to build WellSpeak.
2. Problem - here is should be clearly defined the problem you are trying to solve. The best way to clarify the problem is to ask you, potential clients. In our case, we have defined 3 problems at one time. 
3. Solution - the solution you are offering should be explained as simple as possible. Do not use slang, simple images, simple words. 
4. Market opportunity - the aim of this slide is to show investors that you are targeting to a really big market. No one wants to invest in the 10M US dollar market.
Tip: break your market into TAM, SAM, SOM
  • TAM is your Total Available Market, that everyone competes for. In our case, these are all people who study English in the world
  • SAM is Serviceable Available Market and is the portion of the TAM. People who are interested in your product. In our case, this is everyone who downloads a mobile application for learning speaking English
  • SOM is Serviceable Obtainable Market and is segment of SAM that you can reach for a specific period. Most investors are interested in SOM, it shows what you potentially can get in the nearest future.
In our example, we considered 2 years SOM.
Here are some tips on how to achieve it.
5. Why now? - at this slide, you have to answer the question “Why now is the right time to make this business?”.
Our presentation highlights the next things:
  • World trends
  • The market is ready for such technologies and approaches in the education process
  • Investments into the other competitors. The market is big enough, so you should not afraid of competitors. 
6. Competitors - show people how you are different from other products or companies.
Pay attention, investors and jury do not believe entrepreneurs who say that they are unique and no one else hasn’t done it before - it’s a very rare case.
Be very precise in what you are saying, it is better when you can say about the numbers: 
  • We are better because our algorithm is faster 10 times than the others
  • We are cheaper 3 times than others
  • We are focused on “dialog practice”
  • etc… 
7. Business model - this one should not be complicated. Just show people how will you be earning money. There is no need to show prices. 
8. Go to market - the information that should be shown here depends on the current stage of the startup. As we had not had relevant traction we decided to put on the slide our plans for the first two years. 
9. Investments - we separate our expenses on to parts (Marketing / Development). How to get an idea of how much money do you need for the first time, we need to write an additional article. 
10. Team - here you have to show and say why your team can be successful.
Highlight things like this:
  • Previous startup experience
  • Deep domain/market expertise
  • Experience of working together
11. Close slide - say thanks to everyone and engage the audience with phrases like this:
  • Thank you! Let’s talk about our product in more detail
  • Thank you! You can find us … 
  • etc…

Q&A after the pitch

Right after the pitch be ready that jury will be asking you questions. The source of questions are unpredictable so, try to prepare question at home before the pitch. In our case, we met 3 potential angel investors but unfortunately, we didn’t close a deal. 
Additional materials:
In this article, I tried to show a result of the full-time job of two founders who believe in what they are doing! Maybe exactly this article will be a reason to start your first startup. 
Download WellSpeak right now and practice your English speaking skills with AI.

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