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Resource  12, May 2014

Echelon 2014: What judges are looking for in a 5-minute pitch

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As a startup, how do you make your pitches a success? Monica Tsai, judge at Echelon Singapore Satellite, shares some tips

Pitching to a large audience can be daunting. Pitching to a panel of judges can also be daunting but honestly, behind the poker faces, the judges are actually “nice people” who are interested to hear what you have to share.

I recently had the opportunity to be part of the judging panel during Echelon Satellite’s event in Singapore. It was a great night with many interesting start-ups and founders, sharing with us their latest venture. At the end, it was all about what motivates these entrepreneurs and what drives them.

With more upcoming pitching events, I wanted to take this opportunity to share the 5 things I look for – one for each minute – in any pitch:

#1 Describing the problem you are trying to solve in an easy way
The most important part of the pitch is describing the problem you and your team are trying to solve in an easy to understand way. In short, all-emcompassing descriptions are especially powerful – for example “airbnb for venues” or “buying and selling as easy as sending a tweet”. If I don’t get what you are trying to do, the rest of the pitch is meaningless and I will pretty much tune out after that.

#2 Helping me size up the opportunity is – how large is the addressable market?
Now that I know how you are going to change the world, I want to know how big this market opportunity is to understand the potential of the business. Is it a $10 million dollar business or a $100+ million dollar business? Is it an easily scalable business? Putting estimates as part of the pitch definitely save the audience from having to do distracting mental maths.

#3 Why this is the right team to solve this problem
Chances are that you are not the first to tackle this problem but your approach and execution may be unique. Do you have the “A” team with the right combination of skill sets to grow the business? Do you have the right connections to help you open doors and help you scale when you need to? If not, how are you going to tackle this?

Also Read: How to build the right team for your growing startup

#4 A practiced pitch from a confident entrepreneur
Need I say more? Know your business and your story – inside and out. Practice,practice, and practice. Run through all the possible questions someone might throw at you during the Q&A.

Also, clean up your slides. Make sure the slides carry the right amount of content and that it flows well. You don’t want people to read the slides and not hear what you have to say. In addition, don’t overlook minor things like spelling and grammar!

#5 Making it memorable
Rarely will you be the only one pitching. If you are lucky, there might be only a handful of other pitches. Find a way to be memorable, judges will remember you, investors will remember you. This doesn’t mean doing something that could end up hurting you more than benefiting you. For example, showing a fantastic traction always catches everyone’s attention. (Ideally just the big “real” figure by itself on a slide – pause and let the audience absorb what it means).

There are many more things beyond these 5 things that a judge or investor looks for. But I hope these 5 tips would inspire and get you started. Good luck and don’t forget to enjoy yourself at your next pitch!

The article was kindly written by Monica Tsai, Director (Investments) at SingTel Innov8 Ventures. She was a judge at the recently-concluded Echelon Singapore SatelliteThe views expressed here are of the author, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them.

Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships. 

Enjoy a 10% off your Echelon 2014 tickets, just because you read this article! Or use the code “e27Friend.

Monica Tsai

Monica Tsai

Monica Tsai is the Director of Investments at corporate venture capital fund SingTel Innov8 Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore's SingTel Group.

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