Archive for April, 2007
Starting a business is like assembling giant mechanical watch in that there are hundreds of moving parts that must be timed to interact perfectly. Much like a watch has a face which is the external component that the world sees; an early stage startup has “the pitch” – the one facet of the business that must beautifully communicate everything that is going on in the background.
The difference between a good pitch and bad pitch not only can determine whether you get meetings with investors, but also how well you are able to hire, establish partnerships, build buzz, and generate excitement.
I am no expert on the pitch, but these are my thoughts:
A pitch is like a minimalist business plan, you need to get to the bottom of the issue very quickly.
1 – Hook your audience:
Propose a big problem. Think of a heavy hitting sentence that you can use to catch your listeners attention with the sheer magnitude of the problem you are trying to solve.
2- Solve the problem:
Explain the elegant solution you are developing to solve this devastating problem.
3 – Bring it home
Knock em dead with a real world example of how your solution will solve the problem.
Keep it short: The goal is to generate interest so that you are asked further questions.
Make it a conversation: A lot of entrepreneurs memorize the pitch and spit it back out word for word, try to keep it light and easy on the ears.
Show excitement: The more into it you get, the more people will feed of your energy and share your passion
Quote numbers: These numbers are great in presentations and models, not in pitches. If you must, then keep it to just the market size.
Use words you can’t qualify: Saying your product is the best will get you nowhere.
Explain features: If you have to resort to explaining features, your pitch won’t work. The pitch is all about the big idea not the details. Save those for later.
I posted last week asking whether you thought an MBA was a worthwhile way to spend 2 years and 100,000 dollars. Most of the responses talked about the degree in subjective terms, arguing that it depends on the person and his or her ambitions. Okay, fair enough, so allow me to pose a new question: Do you think an MBA would help you achieve your career goals?
Here is a question for you: Every year thousands and thousands of emerging business leaders attend Business School. Some do it for the network, some do it for the degree, and a few even attend school to learn a couple of new tricks. At the end of the day, is an MBA worth it?
Some say that business is more art than science requiring just as many soft skills (social interaction, leadership), that are near impossible to teach, as hard skills (finance, accounting). These detractors say that any hard skills needed are learned on the job and that a network can be built the old fashion way, and so an MBA is just plain useless. They go on to say that anyone who will make it in business will do so regardless of any three letter degree, and that formalized business training might even inhibit the creative juices.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who swear by the MBA. They point to the benefits of a strong network of contacts, a deeper understanding of core business skills, and the benefits of a prestigious degree. They understand that an MBA is not a pre-requisite for business success, but they argue that it is quiet helpful and increases ones odds significantly of “making it”.
I hear both sides of the equation and I wonder what you think…does an MBA increase the likelihood of success and is it a good investment?