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The Art of… Start-Up Pitching, with Rudi Bublitz

Every other week at Grid AKL / John Lysaght, we gather round for a spot of lunch and the opportunity to learn from each other’s skills and expertise.

This week, our members crowded round the kitchen table to hear from Rudi Bublitz, part of the Flying Kiwi Angel investor group.

Prior to becoming an angel investor in over 30 Kiwi start-ups since 2010, Rudi lived and worked in Germany and the UK and was a director in several different companies. He now spends his Thursdays at Grid AKL / John Lysaght where he and a panel of six other angel investors offer start-up founders free advice.

Throughout his experience, Rudi has listened to countless pitches from a multitude of different businesses and founders. He shared with us the most important things to bear in mind when preparing your pitch.

The general gist of a pitch is to be concise, explain the relevance of what you do to your audience and stay at a high level. Rudi shared the following tips for making this happen:

Explain the pain

First things first, the problem that you are solving for your customers should be immediately clear to investors.

This not only requires you to identify the problem, but also consider who you are speaking to and how you can make the pain relatable to their life. Your product may be addressing an issue which is immediately relevant to young people in their 20s, but a lot of angel investors will be in their 40s or 50s. Finding a common denominator that most people can relate to will get them to feel the pain and see how your solution to taking the pain away will work.

Tell and show your product

Once you’ve identified the pain, as simply as possible explain what your product will do for customers. Even better, give a live demo of it in action or use video and screenshots to show what it can do. Let the people you are pitching to experience your product to get a real feel for it.

Spell out your unique point

As a founder, you probably have an inherent confidence in what makes you different. Whether it’s a feature of your product or something highlighted by your customers’ feedback, it’s important not to assume that your USP is obvious to everyone.

Show that you have researched and understand your competition, and how you get results differently. To stand out even more, explain how hard it would be for your competitors to get the same results. This will show that you have an in-depth knowledge of the market and your unique positioning within it.

Give evidence of customer traction

Don’t just tell investors what you know though, Rudi warns – let your customers do the talking.

Show your progress by giving facts on customer interest. Seeing money changing hands is of course preferable for an investor, however, don’t forget other ways to show that you have an interested, credible customer base awaiting your product. Giving details on how long it has taken for you to gain customers will also reassure investors that you are growing at a good pace and build their confidence in what role they can play in scaling the product.

Propose a business model

“You’d be surprised how many people come to us without the basics of a business model” says Rudi.

It doesn’t have to be the final model. In fact, this could be a turn off for investors because they might question how they can help you. But it is vital to show that you have thought through how you intend to make money, the costs involved and how you believe the business will scale in the future. Give examples on what this looks like for your average customer, breaking the costs and profits down to an individual level. Showing you have thought through your business model will increase investors’ confidence in you and your product, even if it does end up changing.

Address the investment you’re asking for and what you would do with it

Be sure to make an explicit ask when you’re pitching and give a clear plan on what you will do with the money if the investors decide to invest. There is a balance to strike in making sure you’re not asking for too much, or equally too little, both of which could lead investors to question a founder’s competency. It’s also vital to highlight the step change that the investment will enable, showing investors clearly the impact that their investment will have.

Tell us about your team

Although you may be pitching solo, investors want to know what relevant experience and strengths you have in your team. Talking about your team members also demonstrates their motivation for being part of your story and a great team culture is key to any successful business in the long run.

Rudi’s Parting Advice:

  • Less is more – keep the pitch to 10 minutes maximum.
  • Focus on traction – having good customer traction and validation will make you as a founder more confident in your business, which investors will naturally pick up on.
  • Be open and admit if you don’t know – being honest will build trust, rather than raising any doubts in investors’ minds.

You can find a list of resources curated by Rudi on the topic of pitching over on the FKA website.

This blog post was written by Laura Briggs, part of our Community Team at Grid AKL / John Lysaght. With special thanks to Rudi Bublitz for leading the session and sharing his advice.